New Lakeland Regional facility aimed at better serving behavioral health patients

Lakeland Regional Health has expanded to introduce a new $46 million facility to help better serve behavioral health patients. This comes on the heels of a new facility that was just built in North Lakeland and a new emergency room on the south side. 

Lakeland Regional Health Baker Acts 5,000 people every year. The new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness, which is located next to the medical center, wants to help long before anyone gets to that point. 

"Our goal is start to meet some of those clients and patients on an earlier part of their journey when it isn't a crisis level," said Alice Nuttall with the Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness. 

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People who may have had to wait months to see a psychiatrist or counselor will be able to get an appointment sooner. They will also be able to get a bed, if they need one, sooner. The number of beds will increase by about 30%. 

Currently, when a behavioral patient enters the emergency room in need of psychiatric care, they're having to be taken out of Polk County because there aren't enough beds. 

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To staff the new center, Lakeland Regional is hiring 100 employees, including everything from janitors to nurses and psychiatrists. 

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"We're going to be doing it in a much more welcoming and friendly environment, with natural light, bringing the outside in, so that patients are on a journey to recovery and improvement," Danielle Drummond, the CEO for Lakeland Regional Health, said.