Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County seeks ideas to address growing mental health needs

BROOKSVILLE — A lack of psychiatric beds and mental health services is a growing problem among service providers in Hernando County.

"It just starts that cycle, a crisis cycle," said Bob Foster, emergency department director at Oak Hill Hospital. Mental health patients need additional support, but the resources aren't available, he said.

The Hernando County Health Advisory Board held a community forum Monday in hopes of forging a common path among the myriad agencies that deal with mental health issues.

Foster was one of many who spoke about the lack of mental health services in the county. As in many regions, especially in today's economy, funding is an issue. In some ways, however, Hernando is unique.

With a population under 200,000, it doesn't qualify for the amount of government funding that larger counties receive.

"Our greatest need is for those (mental health patients) who have a need for a bed placement," said Kathy Burke, CEO of Brooksville Regional Hospital. "But if there's not a bed, there's not a bed."

The state only pays for four psychiatric beds, which are at The Harbor Behavioral Health Care Institute.

Lack of health insurance further complicates the issue.

"More than one out of four folks are uninsured or on Medicaid," said facilitator Jeff Feller, of WellFlorida Council.

Patients needing support often end up in a county emergency room. But once they've been medically cleared, there isn't always an available place for them to go even for those brought in under the state Baker Act, under which people can be held if they are viewed as a danger to themselves or others.

For some without access to health insurance or transportation, the only place mental health services are available is within the criminal justice system.

"Oftentimes, jail or prison is the only place where they've gotten medication or treatment," said Hernando County Jail psychologist Dr. Robert Klukoff.

"And of course when they leave, they have the same issues, lack of health insurance and medication," he added. "They can't afford it."

"There are so many potholes in our whole continuum of care," said service provider Judy Everett.

Overall, the group identified key areas of concern. This month, the group will review a preliminary report generated by the forum's discussion.

"You can help what happens next by attending the next meeting," said Feller.



IF YOU GO

Next meeting

What: Health Care Advisory Board Meeting

When: May 22 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Where: BOCC office, 20 N Main St., Brooksville

Hernando County seeks ideas to address growing mental health needs 05/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 7:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas County receives $30 million for beach renourishment

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– While Pinellas beaches continually rank among the best in America, they need help to stay that way.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $30 million to help with beach renourishment at several Pinellas locations, including including Sand Key, Treasure Island and Upham Beach. This photo from 2014 shows how waves from high tides caused beach erosion at Sunset Beach near Mansions by the Sea condominium complex SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  2. Straz Center parking squeeze infuriates patrons, motivates search for solutions

    Transportation

    TAMPA — When the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened 30 years ago, it welcomed just 30,000 patrons its first year.

    Fireworks shoot into the sky over the David A. Straz Jr. Center For The Performing Arts. [SCOTT MCINTYRE, Times]
  3. Video shows naked man who stole swan sculpture in Lakeland, deputies say

    Crime

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office is searching for a naked man who stole a large black and white swan sculpture from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says this naked man stole a large black and white swan sculpture, upper right, from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend. Surveillance video showed the man walking into Lakeland Cold Storage. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  5. Jeb money trickles into Putnam's bid for governor

    Blogs

    Money from a Jeb Bush super PAC has made its way into Florida’s 2018 governors race.
     
    A year ago, Bush’s Right to Rise PAC put $1,171 in money