Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Children's crisis unit to open in Ocala

The long-awaited crisis stabilization unit for children suffering from psychiatric or substance abuse emergencies will open its doors Oct. 1 at the Centers in Ocala, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The unit will have 10 beds and be open to children ages 17 and younger, said Laurie Z. Menard, a Centers spokeswoman.

"This is a start," she said.

Menard said the Centers, which serves Citrus and Marion counties, should have 15 beds to meet the needs of children in the two-county region.

The new unit represents a dramatic improvement over the current situation _ there are no such beds in the two counties. Last year, the Centers had to send more than 300 children outside the counties for help.

The unit will cost roughly $1-million annually to operate. This year, the state gave the Centers more than $850,000. The hospital, formerly known as Marion-Citrus Mental Health, then sought donations from the community for the remaining amount, Menard said.

She said the public is welcome to attend a grand opening ceremony for the unit from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Centers, 5664 SW 60th Ave., Ocala. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to (352) 291-5462.