LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Texas is facing a drastic shortage of psychiatric beds, brought on during the last decade by state funding cutbacks.
The problem is being addressed with the opening of the Burke Center Mental Health Emergency Center.
"We have no psychiatric beds in this area so when a person has a psychiatric emergency there's really no place for them to go except jail or a hospital emergency room," explained CEO of the Burke Center, Susan Rushing.
Until now, with the opening of the new facility.
"We've had a critical shortage of resources for many years and we now finally have a solution that can help people in crisis," said Director of Operations David Cozadd.
"People age 18 and older who are having a problem that requires immediate attention. These are people who may be a danger to themselves or others or who really don't know what's going on and need some evaluation," said Rushing.
The center will benefit all 12 Deep East Texas counties.
"It takes a great burden over the local hospitals who really weren't equipped to handle these types of crisis situations and the counties, the Sheriff Departments all over East Texas who really didn't have a place to take people," said Buddy Temple with the T.L.L Temple Foundation.
"This is actually a God sent blessing to us," said Angelina County Sheriff Kent Henson.
The center helps stabilize patients with new, innovative resources allowing the psychiatrist and patient to interact face to face by way of tele-conferencing.
The building offers 24/7 technology and is capable of housing up to 32 people. Patients can stay for up to two weeks, but many only need a few days.
"Most can be treated and go home," said Rushing.
It's treatment that for years was not accessible to the thousands who need it. Now lives can be transformed.
A temporary facility in Nacogdoches has already helped more than 1,400 people since it opened in December.
Patients there will be transferred to the new facility in Lufkin beginning Monday.