NAPLES, Fla. — There's no such thing as a slow day at the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health in Collier County. It says it's seeing more kids and adults than ever in need of immediate help, and for a long time, it's been running out of crisis beds.
Scott Burgess, the President and CEO of the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health said there's been a dramatic increase in Baker Act Admissions.
"We have 30 licensed beds, and we've actually had days where we've had in the mid-40s or high-40s as far as need and demand," Burgess said.
He said one day, they had 56 clients in need of a crisis bed, and when someone comes in in need of crisis services, they deliver.
"We've got some roll-out beds that we can accommodate," Burgess said. "We've actually had to move some of our staff off this campus, administrative staff, in order to free up more clinical space."
So what's behind this need for mental healthcare? Burgess said our country and community were already dealing with two major epidemics before the pandemic started: suicide and opioid overdose.
“Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for kids in our country," he said. "We lost 100,000 Americans last year to opioid overdose. And to put that in context, we lose about 25,000 Americans to motor vehicle accidents across our country. So multiply that by four, that's just the opioid overdose epidemic that we're facing."
He said add on top of that the isolation, depression and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a large rise in the need for mental health care. The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health said one in five people in Naples has a serious mental health problem. The bottom line is they need more crisis beds, so they're expanding.
"We're in the process of building out the 15 beds right now," he said. "In order for us to be able to add these 15 beds on to campus, with the construction, we know it's going to cost about $500,000."
Burgess said Florida is one of the lowest funded states in the country for mental health and addiction services and has one of the highest uninsured populations.
"We're here to help treat everybody in the community, regardless of having insurance. Regardless of income level. So in order to maintain that commitment to the community and access to care for everybody in need, we really do need to rely on support from our community," he said.
Burgess said donations will go toward construction costs and hiring more doctors, nurses, behavioral health technicians, counselors, and discharge planners to make sure they can care for you or your loved one in the biggest time of need.
"We need to treat these as what they are, which are potentially life-threatening health care conditions. If they're not attended to and people don't have access to them, we know that there are dire consequences," he said.
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