Harrison Co. supervisors ‘have no intention of allowing Gulf Coast Mental Health Center to close’

Harrison Co. supervisors ‘have no intention of allowing Gulf Coast Mental Health Center to close’
The Gulf Coast Mental Health Center's Board of Directors notified county leaders this week that they don't have the funding to continue providing services beyond Aug. 11, 2019. (Photo source: WLOX) (Source: WLOX)

HARRISON CO., Miss. (WLOX) - After news about the potential closure of the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center spread last week, many residents and county leaders were not happy with the idea of losing a community resource.

The Harrison County board of supervisors met Monday to make a decision on how to keep the doors of the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center open.

The center was reportedly closing due to reports of major financial troubles, citing a lack of funding. Employees with the center were notified last Thursday about the closure.

The board made a decision to put $700,000 upfront from the 2020 budget to fund the center. It serves Harrison, Hancock, Stone and Pearl River counties.

A different mental health region will also be brought in to assist with billing and reimbursements. Supervisors said that likely will be Pine Belt Mental Healthcare.

The board has to make a decision by Tuesday afternoon in order for the center to receive $1.5 million of its 2020 funding in advance from the state department of mental health.

Supervisors said the goal following this will be to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

“I think we’re going to be more apt to monitor the situation. We’ll be getting more reports from the commission, which is responsible for all the mental health services in this county and the other counties,” said supervisor and board president Marlin Ladner. “I think all the board of supervisors will be cognizant to what happens and we’re going to be more alert to any problems that potentially could exist.”

Supervisors said ensuring the center continues providing services to the community was critical.

“It’s everything from the counselors in the schools to the medications to the drop in centers. I mean, you would just be amazed at the services they provide, and to me they’re all core services,” said supervisor Beverly Martin.

“Mental Health services are critical for our community, and it was important that it stayed open. That’s why we contacted the state and got financial assistance from them. So, we will stay open, and that’s the most important thing that services will not be interrupted,” said Ladner.

The other three boards of supervisors will meet Monday night to determine how much in funding they will contribute and finalize the decision.

Gulf Coast Mental Health Center offers outpatient services to residents in the four counties, which includes a medication clinic and case management for children and adults. Those locations are:

  • Harrison County Main Office, 1600 Broad Ave, Gulfport
  • Biloxi Satellite Office, 228 Rue Petit Bois, Biloxi
  • Hancock County Satellite Office, 819-B Central Ave., Bay St. Louis
  • Pearl River County Satellite Office, 211 Hwy. 11 South, Picayune
  • Stone County Satellite Office, 200 Coastal Paper Ave., Wiggins

The full statement from the board of supervisors can be found below:

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors has no intention of allowing Gulf Coast Mental Health Center to close its doors and disrupt services to the thousands of people who use it in Harrison County. The board has been working to ensure the services continue since the financial situation was brought to the attention of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors in June. The board was blindsided by the July 16 letter announcing Gulf Coast Mental Health Center would be closing. The Harrison County Board of Supervisors is finalizing an agreement between the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the four county commission of Harrison, Stone, Pearl River and Hancock counties that will allow the continuation of services from the Gulf Coast Mental Health Center. The agreement will come with added accountability measures to help ensure the long-term financial stability of the Gulf Coast Medical Health Center.
Harrison County board of supervisors

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