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Closing of a mental health facility in Tupelo has far reaching impact

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Updated: 7/15/2014 4:41 pm
NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA)-- Region IV is a certified holding facility and even though its located in Tupelo, other North Mississippi counties have contracted with the facility for those dealing with mental illness but as of tomorrow, that won't be an option anymore.

“We are going to have to quickly make that decision,” said Annette Hickey, Union County Chancery Clerk.

Union County is just one of several North Mississippi counties in a race against the clock to find a new facility to house mental health and drug and alcohol commitments.

“These are people who just need some mental help, they just have mental issues that need to be dealt with. Sometimes, the people have been incarcerated, a lot of times they have not been, it’s just strictly people who need mental help,” said Hickey.

Hickey says back in 2011, a law took affect requiring each county in the state to have a certified holding facility or contract with one.

"We are dealing with about 30 commitments a year. So if you average 2 1/2 a month, we don’t see that we can justify spending so much money on that, so it’s easier and better for a facility to contract with someone,” said Hickey.

For the past 3 years, the county has contracted with Region IV in Tupelo but 2 weeks ago, they learned the facility would be closing due to funding issues.

“There were about 12 counties that were using Tupelo, so now we don’t have that facility. So now we are faced with what to do, whether we contract with someone else or become a certified holding facility," said Hickey.

To turn the county jail into a certified holding facility, is something Hickey says would be very costly. It would require the presence of a medical doctor 24/7, as well as a psychiatrist or psychologist and jailers would have to be certified to take care of the patients.
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