Alabama Governor Kay Ivey was in the Druid City Tuesday morning to celebrate the opening of the new Hope Point crisis center - the fifth such facility that has opened with funding from her administration.

The Tuscaloosa Thread got a pre-opening walkthrough of the crisis center last week - see all it has to offer here.

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Although constructed and staffed with funding from the state, the new crisis center will be operated by Tuscaloosa's nonprofit Indian Rivers Behavioral Health.

The wait for the facility to open is finally over, and Ivey was joined by more than a hundred local leaders and dignitaries to celebrate the ribbon cutting.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

"Folks, it's a pleasure to be here in Tuscaloosa today to celebrate yet another step toward ensuring that our people receive the care they need," Ivey said. "It was more than apparent that we needed to make changes to provide our people with greater access to mental health resources That is why in the last three legislative sessions, I have continuously called on our legislators to prioritize establishing a mental health crisis continuum of care and thanks to our collective efforts, we have been very successful in doing just that."

Hope Pointe and the other crisis centers that have opened across the state are specifically designed to alleviate pressure building in regional emergency rooms and jails - the two places where people experiencing a mental health crisis are most likely to wind up.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

Kimberly Boswell, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, joined Ivey at Hope Pointe Tuesday and said the crisis centers they have already opened in Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville and Mobile are proof positive that this kind of resource makes a difference.

"With 18 months of data from our four crisis centers that are open, we've seen over 5,400 individuals and close to 1,000 [who would have otherwise been arrested] avoided jail," Boswell said. "Of the individuals who received services, over 1,000 of those individuals came to us in a suicidal crisis - so 24/7 crisis services save lives."

DCH CEO Katrina Keefer joined County Sheriff Ron Abernathy and Tuscaloosa Police Department Deputy Chief Sebo Sanders and spoke at the ribbon-cutting Tuesday to praise Ivey and Hope Pointe for both improving the kind of care people receive and also freeing up the resources of the hospital, jail and law enforcement officers.

Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

"The default for individuals in behavioral health crisis has always been the emergency room or jail, neither of which is appropriate," Keefer said. "With Hope Pointe we now have a safe alternative for both law enforcement officials or concerned family members to take those in crisis for care, or for self-identified individuals to seek assistance."

Hope Pointe's director Jaime Garza said his staff will start receiving people in crisis immediately and with the ribbon-cutting and open house out of the way, they would officially open in downtown Tuscaloosa Wednesday morning at 1401 Greensboro Avenue.


There are also plans to continue growing Hope Pointe, adding more beds for those who need observation for more than 24 hours.


Hope Pointe is open now - if you or someone you know in West Alabama are experiencing a mental health crisis or suffering from suicidal thoughts, you are not alone and help is available regardless of ability to pay.

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Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

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