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Rep. Salzman seeks long-term mendatl health solutions for families in ‘constant crisis mode’

State Rep. Michelle Salzman convened dozens of local leaders and medical professionals Wednesday afternoon to discuss bringing a collaborative community care long-term treatment facility to the Panhandle.

During a meeting of the Mental Health Task Force of Northwest Florida at the Pensacola Museum of Commerce, Salzman championed the facility and said its purpose would be to provide help to people struggling with mental-health-related issues who cycle through emergency rooms or short-term care facilities that don’t offer specific services, leaving coverage “gaps.”

“We don’t have a long-term care facility in Florida,” Salzman said during the meeting. “So, I would like to see a collaborative long-term treatment facility in Florida.”

According to a press release Salzman’s office sent prior to the meeting, the long-term care facility would help individuals who are “regularly baker acted” to teach them how to cope, live and thrive with their diagnoses.

“It also means that the folks who are regularly using (emergency rooms or short-term care facilities’) services are actually taking away from services that other potential patients really need access to,” the release said. “Bogging down the system in this (vicious) cycle that isn’t actually addressing the real problems these patients face. Opening up the system will create more room for critical/crisis care patients and follow-up therapies.”

In a statement, Salzman added, “Having a long-term treatment facility would in-fact save our community money, open access to those who need the short-term solutions and finally provide a valuable roadmap for those in consistent crisis mode.”

During the meeting, Salzman also introduced Rachelle Burns, the task force’s newest part-time employee beginning Oct. 1.

Burns will lead the talks regarding the implementation of the task force’s strategic plan and roadmap. Burns started the EscaRosa Financial Stability Coalition in 2011 and founded the EscaRosa Suicide Prevention Coalition in 2018, according to documents provided at the task force meeting.

Although the long-term treatment facility does not appear in the drafted strategic plan and roadmap, Salzman said the idea of the care facility arose after she met with state leadership and called a meeting with key stakeholders.

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Salzman advertised Wednesday’s gathering as an opportunity for “brainstorming, designing and planning for a potential long-term treatment facility” and most of the meeting time was used to allow everyone in attendance to provide medical insights and their opinions on how the the process of creating a long-term facility could work.

Salzman stressed that the taskforce is looking at a community-based approach rather than creating a state-run facility.

A follow-up meeting for further discussion on facility has yet to be scheduled.

According to the organization’s strategic plan and road map, the Mental Health Task Force of Northwest Florida is a volunteer group convened by Salzman to bring greater focus to the topic and identify opportunities to improve behavioral health services for individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.


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