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Bridgeway Center closing Inpatient Services in March

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 02:33 PM CDT
Taking care of mental health emergencies is about to get a lot tougher in Okaloosa County.
The Bridgeway Center is cutting all inpatient services in less than a month.
   
Laura Hussey "The people who come to Bridgeway Center for inpatient and emergency services are often in a state of crisis that's hard to understand. Starting March 18, that help won't be available to them"

The waiting area tells the story, heavy furniture that can't be thrown.

A protective cover over the TV.
People who need the crisis stabilization unit could be dangerously violent, or desperate for a helping hand.

Ginny Barr/Mental Health Assn "When you are either suicidal, when you are suffering delusions, or hallucinations that are either dangerous to yourself or others"

Bridgeway is where law enforcement officers bring people under the Baker Act.
Inpatient services also include a detox facility, and emergency medical treatment for psychiatric problems.

The CEO says they're here to get people stabilized, so they can return to their lives.
Dan Cobbs/CEO "So they're not hospitalized or worse institutionalized, and even possibly put in jail"

Sheriff Larry Ashley says with this part of Bridgeway closed, there's no doubt more people will end up in jail and there will be more unstable people on the streets.

Florida ranks last in the nation for state mental health funding.
Ginny Barr from the Mental Health Association says people have to demand more from their legislators.

Ginny Barr "I know what it's like to be watching this whole system to kind of crumble out from underneath the citizens of Okaloosa County, I mean, it's not there"

Laura Hussey "The Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies are just beginning to figure out how they'll fill the gap when the crisis stabilization unit closes."Bridgeway Center closing Inpatient Services in March


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