Make us your home page

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.


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

  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.