New center opens for local mental health patients


It’s the first of its kind in the state.

At the Charleston Center in downtown, another method to treat people with mental health issues is open for patients.

Psychiatric nurses from MUSC are touring the new Tri-county Crisis Stabilization Center. It’s a simple facility where those with psychological distress can get help.

"They might be thinking about harming someone else. They might be psychotic. They might be depressed. They may be manic,” explained Deborah Blalock, executive director of the Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center. “And they need services, but they don't need a hospital and they don't need a detention center. And they don't need to go home. So they need something in between to make sure their needs are met."

Patients can stay in quiet rooms with beds, chairs, and closets as they wait for experts to assess their condition, and decide the best option for treatment.

"We have growing needs for mental health treatment throughout the community. Our community is growing. We're seeing increased recognition, decreased stigma of mental health. And really more and more people coming for treatment appropriately," said Dr. Jeffrey Cluver, Deputy Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and chief of Mental Health Services at MUSC.

State and county agencies, MUSC, and Roper Saint Francis are funding the center. A full-time sheriff's deputy will help coordinate efforts between medical experts and the Al Cannon Detention Center.

"If we can divert some of these folks from coming into jail, deflect them from the criminal justice system and into the mental health or substance abuse programs, it’s a win for everyone involved," said Mitch Lucas, assistant sheriff of Charleston County.

Its a new effort to provide patients with quality mental health care.

A local crisis stabilization center was open from 1999 until 2009. But it closed because of new DHEC regulations. The new center opened yesterday and is already treating three patients. Two others are expected to enter this week.

Roper Saint Francis, Charleston County Sheriff's Office, the Charleston Center, and Berkeley Mental Health Center are also involved.

There are ten beds available. The sheriff's office delivers three meals a day from the jail to patients at the center.

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