SHELBY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Patients in Shelby County in need of psychiatric treatment soon won't have to go very far for help.
The Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster is adding a new unit for patients.
"One in four Alabamians has a psychiatric illness," explained Zelia Baugh. She is all too familiar with the alarming stats surrounding mental health issues in the state and the growing need for proper treatment.
Baugh is the executive director for psychiatric services at Baptist Health System.
"There's such a shortage for adult inpatient psychiatric beds and in particular in Shelby County," explained Baugh.
She said there are currently no hospital facilities for emergency psychiatric help in Shelby County.
"As a result many patients in Shelby County have to travel great distances in order to get any kind of help," Baugh added.
Deputies with the Shelby County Sherriff's office feel the burden too.
"Frequently we are dealing with the same individual with a similar continuation of their problem and coming to jail is not the best alternative," explained Sheriff Chris Curry.
He said county and hospital leaders recently came together to find a possible solution to the growing issue.
The answer is a new psychiatric center at Shelby Baptist for adults. Baugh says the project will start with 20 rooms. There's the potential to add more.
"This is a very large first step heading in the direction that will be beneficial for all of the county because look at the families that are struggling with these individuals. They don't know what to with them either," added Curry.
The new unit will be inside the Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster and will open in January of next year.