WAAY 31 worked to learn more about a $2.1 million crisis center that will be built in Madison County. It will be a place for law enforcement, first responders and hospitals to take a person who is in a mental health crisis.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said adding 39 beds for mental health patients in Madison County will help improve care for people going through a crisis.
"To say that I'm excited is not sufficient. We are certainly, certainly thrilled that we are going to have this in Madison County. It will lessen or reduce the burden of the psych unit at Huntsville Hospital and again just the additional bed space is going to have a huge impact," he said.
He's not the only one excited for the new facility. Madison Police Chief Dave Jernigan said he's a part of the mental health coalition in Madison County that brings a variety of agencies together to discuss mental health needs in North Alabama.
"The announcement this week, we are really, really excited about this because it began about 5 years ago in a grassroots kind of organization. Mentally, individuals that are in crisis don't need to go to jail. We need a hybrid or a place where they can certainly not go to jail but not go to the emergency room, somewhere in between, which is a crisis center," he said.
Jernigan said the new center will be open for intake with law enforcement and court referrals, and they will be able to get someone help faster.
"It's a way we can have somebody be able to recognize they need help, get them to the crisis center. It may be a 23.5-hour stay. It might be to find out what their issue is, get them linked up with peers or family or make a further assessment that they need some either further inpatient or outpatient training," Jernigan said.
Barger added with beds in the area normally being filled up. This will hopefully help individuals reduce the frequency of visits to a hospital's emergency department and provide sustained recovery.
"Having just shy of 40 additional beds to serve this community is going to have a vast improvement, a vast impact on the way we serve those folks that are mentally ill," he said.
Barger said he believes the new crisis center will be built somewhere along South Memorial Parkway. The governor's office announced Wellstone Behavioral Health in Huntsville will be the facility's provider. It's unclear when the new crisis center will open.