Knox Co. commissioners call for new mental health facility in East Tennessee

Knox Co. commissioners call for new mental health facility in East Tennessee

The commissioners call the need for a public inpatient mental health hospital a “popular issue”.

KNOX COUNTY, Tennessee — The Knox County Commission, along with Mayor Glenn Jacobs, is asking the State of Tennessee to provide financial support for the construction and operation of a mental health hospital in Knox County .

In a resolution late Monday, county officials urged the state to help begin construction of a public inpatient mental health care hospital that will help residents of East Tennessee.

Kyle Ward, the 4th District commissioner who first brought this issue to the commission’s attention, said the need for a new facility goes beyond political party alignments and said it’s a ” question of the people”.

“It’s a county issue and I think we’re all coming together and working together,” Ward said. “It’s something that shouldn’t be partisan, we should all be able to support that.”

There are four public mental health hospitals in Tennessee, located in Bolivar, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville.

The closest mental health hospital to Knox County residents is the Chattanooga Facility. Thus, patients have to travel about two hours to get the help they need.

Ward said a hospital in Knox County would not only help Knoxvillians, but also help eastern counties in Tennessee.

“We will be welcoming patients from the Middle Tennessee area, from the Johnson City area of ​​our neighbors and from Maryville and Oak Ridge, so this will not only serve our community but the community at large,” Ward said.

In a statement to WBIR, Mayor Glenn Jacobs said, “Mental health is a significant and growing issue in Knox County. I am very much in favor of the committee’s resolution.

He further added that he looked forward to working with the state to find a way to help provide long-term mental health resources.

In response to the county’s resolution, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services released a statement. It is available below.

“We are aware of a Knox County Commission resolution that makes inaccurate allegations about the state’s response to the closure of the Lakeshore Institute of Mental Health. The TN Department of Mental Health has been closely monitoring and reporting on the reinvestment of more than $20.5 million annually in critical community behavioral health services in Knox County.

The State Department said it will continue to work with its provider, family, consumer agencies, and Knox County leaders to help Tennessee residents living with serious mental illness.

The department also said it had a strong partnership with Peninsula and “responded to acute care psychiatric inpatient needs through a contract with them, two additional private hospitals and an expansion of the capacity of the Moccasin Mental Health Institute.” bend”.

Currently, the county, city, and state, along with the McNabb Center, are working to address the mental health issue in the Knox County area. They all work together in a small medical clinic on the Old St. Mary’s campus in North Knoxville.

Leann Human-Hilliard, regional clinical vice president at the McNabb Center, says there’s an immediate need here.

“I think Knoxville is blessed with a lot of community services, but there’s always more need,” Human-Hilliard said. “So what we think is the greatest need is for people to be seen immediately and given a different level of care when they are in an emergency.”

Once opened, patients will be able to get mental health care for up to three days. The McNabb Center works with the city and county to operate the medical clinic.

Commissioners say three days for mental health treatment is not enough for many people in need.

“[The mental health hospital] will help people who need service faster and at this time we have no choice but to ship our issues elsewhere,” Ward said.

The request comes after years since Knox County’s only state-funded mental health hospital, Lakeshore, closed in 2013.

The Commission’s resolution says the closure “left few options for citizens of Knox County with mental health issues who lacked the financial means to seek effective treatment.”

They hope the mental health hospital will help Knoxville’s growing homeless population, people with mental illnesses and those who cannot seek help due to financial hardship.

County leaders said it is in the interest of all citizens of Knox County that affordable and effective mental health facilities be provided.

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