BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A crisis center that was developed for Jefferson, St. Clair and Blount Counties to take the burden off of jails and emergency rooms has officially opened its doors to the public.
The Craig Crisis Care Center, located at 401 Beacon Parkway West in Birmingham, is for anyone 19 years or older willing to voluntarily be admitted for stabilization experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.
After CBS 42 first reported a shortage of nurses in February, executive director Jim Crego said they received more than 20 applications and were able to hire several nurses to fill the vacancies. Now, the doors are open.
Mental health tech Daris Davis said it’s taken six months of training to get to this point.
“It wasn’t available to some of us, but it is going to be available to somebody else to help somebody else,” Davis said. “This community needs it, you know? We need to help the people out here that’s going through a crisis. Me myself has been through a crisis.”
The center operates like an emergency room for people who are experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis.
Crego said law enforcement would spend hours at the emergency room waiting for them to get help. He said the wait time here for officers is 15 minutes.
“Here they’ll be getting care as soon as they are brought here because that’s all that we do. We don’t serve any other populations,” Crego said. “There’s a lot of community benefit that’s at play here and we’re looking forward to providing some of that.”
In turn, this keeps patients out of the jails and court system, getting everyone the help they truly need.
Alabama State Nurses Association President James Hardin says the need for nurses continues and remains a group effort.
“You can’t take care of these people in need if you don’t have enough nurses,” Hardin said. “It’s going to impact how your family is taken care of.”
Registered nurse Unique Chisem said she is up for the challenge.
“I think that will be the most important thing is letting them know there’s someone here relatable that can relate to them,” Chisem said.
The center is only partially open, as there is still a need for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses to fill an additional 16 to 20 positions to operate at full capacity.
“We’ve been able to get this to a point where we can open up a limited capacity and we’re still hiring, training, and we will be,” Crego said. “As we can expand we will until we have all 48 beds open to the public in the near future.”
You can apply here for those positions.