New behavioral health facility hopes to divert guests to treatment instead of jail

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new behavioral health crisis center in Savannah is now taking patients. The center broke ground last year. It is intended to help prevent the incarceration of people with mental health issues.

“This facility is a dramatic improvement on access for mental health in the county,” Gateway Community Service Board CEO Dr. Mark Johnson said.

The brand new Gateway Behavioral Health Crisis Center’s doors opened in early July hoping to better treat those with mental illness in Chatham County.

“One of our intentions is to provide a place that someone can instead of going to jail if they’ve got a mental illness and committed a misdemeanor they can come in for an evaluation,” Johnson said.

It’s not just a crisis center for those who could face jail time but for everyone in the community.
Inside the center are 24 beds for patients to stay from five to seven days, large community rooms for group interaction, and a 23-hour waiting room.

“So if somebody comes in and maybe they’re ready to go home, but you want to wait, and they want to wait and see if their medication adjustment helps them or if their crisis counseling is helpful there’s a place they can wait without being admitted,” Johnson said.

Upon arrival, each patient will be registered, get a clinical assessment, and a psychiatric evaluation.
Patients can come in on their own, with a referral from a local hospital or by law enforcement who are now putting an emphasis on tackling mental health issues.

“Previously you really only had the two emergency rooms to go to or nowhere,” Johnson said.

After being discharged from the facility it’ll be each patient’s responsibility to follow up for outpatient treatment at a local clinic. Johnson said they’ve seen excellent progress in patients since the facility opened.

Over the last three months, the center has seen 150 patients. Insurance is needed but if patients don’t have that assistance is available through the Department of Behavioral Health and Chatham County.

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