Bridgeway Center closing all inpatient services (GALLERY)

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:01 AM.

Floridaranks 49th among states in the percentage of uninsured people with incomes below the federal poverty level, It also is 49th in the nation for state funding per capita for mental health funding, according to the news release.

“The Legislature has prioritized hard services in prior budget years over some of the mental health services that have been provided,” said state Rep. Matt Gaetz. “We don’t want to have more counseling at the expense of providing food and medicine to people in nursing homes.”

Gaetz said recent events such as the shooting in Newton, Conn., in December could change the budget priorities and put more focus on “soft services” in coming years.

“That will not be without some pain in the budget to someone else,” Gaetz added. “That’s the process we work through in putting together a budget.”

In addition to the Crisis Stabilization Unit, Bridgeway’s Detoxification Unit, Emergency Services and Food Services will close, according to the news release. The closures will affect 41 full- and part-time employees and contractors. Twelve employees will be transferred to other positions at Bridgeway

The nonprofit agency has served the area since 1991. It serves local law enforcement agencies and contracts with the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“It’s a horrible situation for us,” Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said. “That Crisis Stabilization Unit screens 220 to 225 folks a month, and they admit about 100 of those. Those 2,200 to 3,000 people are now going to be at the emergency room or jail. This drives up costs for everyone.

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