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New Baker Act facility opens in Bradenton

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A new 60-bed acute psychiatric facility for people of all ages is opening its doors in Bradenton. Suncoast Behavioral Health Center’s grand opening in Bradenton Wednesday drew medical professionals and community members.

The facility offers short-term, psychiatric stabilization services for all ages and is a designated Baker Act facility.

They may offer something lacking in our area. “Here on the Suncoast, there is a limited number of Baker Act facilities, so what this is going to provide is a venue for someone to find a safe place to be,” says Hope Winburn of Inspired Living Hidden Lakes.

The Baker Act is a Florida law that enables families and loved ones to provide emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people who are impaired because of their mental illness, and who are unable to determine their needs for treatment,” says Winburn.

It is involuntary, but the families that are involved in these situations are generally the persons that have the say for what can happen.

Winburn says she works with a lot of the population who are either caregivers or persons who have dementia or Alzheimer's themselves. “The ability to know that there are services available to them here, is going to be huge for our population.”

Linda Dietrich of Inspired Living in Bradenton and Sarasota is optimistic. “I hope that the Suncoast Behavioral Center helps our senior population that struggle with dementia and Alzheimer's to find a need that can help them sort through their struggle at home.”

Moore Medical Group out of Lake Mary, Florida will be providing the medical care for the psychiatric patients. "Psychiatric patients are admitted to the hospital, but they also have medical problems, diabetes, hypertension, and other issues,” says Dr. Eric Moore.

He says he knows the mortality rate is very high with psychiatric patients. “One of our missions is to reduce that by taking care of those chronic medical issues, diabetes, hypertension, other issues.”

He goes onto say that these patients may not be on medications when they enter the hospital. So they place them on medications. “But the challenge is definitely once they leave the hospital, how are they taken care of. And that's something that is a challenge in the health care industry with psychiatric patients -- making sure they get good medical care once they leave a facility.”

Nurse practitioner Crystal Santiago, a native of Bradenton, says there are challenges in our area. “Certainly medical care is lacking; there's a lower socio-economic class primarily in Bradenton.”

She says they are going to ensure that whether they have insurance or not, their needs are being addressed.

According to Dr. Moore, they go through the process of trying to identify once a patient is admitted into the hospital no matter how they've been admitted and what reason. "Whether it's voluntary or involuntary, we do a thorough general medical exam to make sure that we're covering everything."