A New Path for Mental Health Care in Coweta

A New Path for Mental Health Care in Coweta

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when community stakeholders work together to find creative solutions. Coweta County was in dire need of an in-patient behavioral health facility. While the State’s Certificate of Need (CON) process had prevented an in-patient behavioral health hospital from opening in Coweta County, Pathways CEO Jade Benefield saw a “pathway” around CON that would address the need for critical mental health care locally – construction of a crisis stabilization unit.

Pathways Center Community Service Board is a public entity and receives state funding as such; however, they do not receive funds for new construction. Benefield saw the need in the community and approached County Administrator Michael Fouts and the Coweta County Board of Commissioners to see what other resources might be available. Fouts then reached out to members of the Coweta Hospital Authority and a unique partnership was formed. The Hospital Authority agreed to provide funding to build not one, but two facilities: one for children and one for adults; Coweta County agreed to provide project management services including putting the project out to bid and overseeing the construction of the facilities.

Almost three years later, the new Pathways Center Care Campus on Hospital Road is ready for patients.

The children’s unit opened Nov. 14 and provides 24/7 walk-in evaluations for children ages 5-17 who are in a mental health crisis. In addition, the facility has 16 beds for those needing short-term in-patient treatment (typically 5-10 days). According to Benefield, they already have eight patients who are receiving services. The adjacent adult unit will open at the beginning of 2020, with six 24-hour observation beds and 24 crisis beds.

Crisis stabilization units are designed to treat patients who are at risk of harming themselves. The goal is to stabilize the patients and then work with local care providers to either transition them back into the community with out-patient care or to move them to a longer-term facility. Pathways Center accepts patients with private insurance as well as those without insurance.

The Pathways Care Campus should be a great source of pride for our community. The state of mental health care is dismal nation-wide and suicide rates have steadily increased in recent years. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate among youth ages 10-24 increased an alarming 56% between 2007 and 2017. Undoubtedly, Pathways Care Campus will provide a bridge for people in crisis and save lives.

I encourage residents to contact the Coweta County Board of Commissioners, Jade Benefield, and Michael Fouts and thank them for recognizing and caring about the mental health needs of our community.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.