Merit Health River Region closes mental health unit, leaving locals without care close by
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Access to mental health resources has always been limited in Mississippi, and now that the Behavioral Health Services unit at River Region closed its doors on June 30, the mental health landscape in the state looks even more bleak.
“They were providing services to all of Warren County, but also all the surrounding areas as well,” said Donna Hardy, Chancery Clerk of Warren County. “So over the years, River Region here in Vicksburg has had a huge following in that mental health capacity.”
So without River Region, what does this mean for patients? For those admitted through the county, Pace says it’s going to be difficult.
“When the sheriff’s office serves a chancery court writ to pick up someone for a mental health evaluation, we’ve been taking them to River Region West Campus here in Vicksburg. With that facility closing, it leaves us now driving to Jackson,” Pace said.
But with St. Dominic closing their mental health unit just over a month ago, beds are limited in the capital city.
“It’s putting everything on Central Mississippi Medical Center,” said Pace. “So when that facility is full, we’re just not sure where we’re going to go.”
For private clinics like River Ridge Behavioral Health, patients who received out-patient treatment before now have three options: a longer commute, quitting treatment all together, or be forced into treatment.
“When they would come in, we would be able to convince them to go into the hospital a few days to avoid possible involuntary commitment,” said Donald Brown, Deputy Executive Director of river Ridge Behavioral Health. “Now you may have some people that would may be willing to go in to get treatment, but the resources are not available in the community anymore.”
But as Warren County officials and clinics work to find and create resources in their region - they say finding care quickly will be difficult.
“We’re going to have to work that much harder to try to make sure maybe they get back on their medications or duty regiment; do the type of things that will keep them well and be able to keep them in the community,” Brown said.
This unit closure comes about a month after River Region closed its Long-term Acute Care unit back in early June.
Which leaves many residents in the Delta wondering, what could be next? Merit Health released this statement regarding the closure at River Region:
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