BAY COUNTY, Fla. — The damage of Hurricane Michael caused many resources to lessen, including mental health facilities. A local mother says the limited space pulled a son away from his mother.
Shelia Rochelle’s 28-year-old son lives with a mental illness. Last week, Rochelle called the police when her son was having an episode.
“I told them that my son was having an episode. He’s mentally disabled and he has a child- like mind and I’m responsible for him,” said Rochelle.
Police took him to Life Management Center but for medical reasons, he was unable to be treated there and transported to Bay Medical Center.
Tricia Pearce, with Life Management, says, “we wouldn’t transfer somebody to Bay Medical for not having space for them. If they go to a facility like that it’s because they’re presenting other issues that we don’t have the license to care for.”
Pearce says if they have the room, they’ll treat patients but Hurricane Michael put a limit on how many people they can help. “The other inpatient unit for mental health services in our area was damaged bad enough, they’re just now starting to get up and going so that’s presented a challenge for us because we don’t have enough beds to provide all the services people need.”
Because of this, they are forced to transport patients all over. “You work within the state and it really is to try and find the one nearest at the time,” said Pearce.
For Rochelle, her son was transported to a mental hospital in Jacksonville. Without a way to go get him herself, Rochelle expects that the people who transported her son out of the area will bring him back. When she spoke to the hospital in Jacksonville they said they might be able to transfer him back to town if he has insurance.
“I want him back at home because he’s lost. He thinks his mama gave up on him and that’s not the truth,” said Rochelle.
Rochelle has been in contact with the hospital and hoping her son will be home this week.
Bay Medical Center released this statement to News13:
“Out of respect for patient privacy, we cannot comment on any specific cases. We recognize that mental health is a significant need in our community that we are working diligently to address, and it will take a collaborative community approach to do so. As we work to rebuild and grow services for those we serve, we will continue to identify the community’s needs and work hard to meet them.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, you can contact Life Management Center here.