Burke Center gets national recognition

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's essentially an emergency room for those in a mental health crisis.

Three years ago the Burke Center established a mental health emergency center in Lufkin.

Now, the American Psychiatric Association is recognizing the center for their innovative solution to getting psychiatric care to those that need it most.

"I had been taking it for 6 years and I knew it was going to be a very difficult, hard struggle to come off of that and it's very dangerous to withdraw from that, especially on your own or at home," she said.

The client said she was addicted to Xanax, A drug designed to relive anxiety. Experts say it's highly addictive.

"They provided me with the medication to withdraw from the medication I was taking and gave me a lot of insight on what to expect with the withdrawal process," she said.

She spent five days at the Burke Mental Health Emergency Center in Lufkin.

The facility received the gold achievement award for bringing cutting-edge psychiatric emergency services to the 12 rural East Texas counties they serve.

"We live in a medically underserved, mental health shortage area," said CEO Susan Rushing. "We don't have a lot of psychiatrists, so being able to have someone come, via telemedicine, 24-seven we have experts standing by and we can get someone in crisis in front of a doctor in a very short period of time."

"Within five seconds, it feels like I'm having a conversation with somebody that is in the room and within anywhere from like five seconds to ten minutes, my patients forget that I'm on a TV and I can see their reactions emotionally," said Dr. Michael Shiekh via teleconference.

Law enforcement also says having the emergency facility has lightened their load.

"There are still some challenges that come because there are only a limited number of beds, but before there were no bed options," Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss said.

One patient at a time they're making a difference and the nation is noticing.

"It makes it a lot easier to deal with knowing that you have somebody that understands," the patient said.

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