Groundbreaking held for Knoxville's Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Plans for a new behavioral health urgent care center are moving forward after a groundbreaking on Friday. The center will be located on Dewine Road near Western Avenue in Knoxville.

Gov. Bill Haslam spoke about how widespread substance abuse and mental health issues really are the center's goal - to treat non-violent repeat offenders with the right help.

"Once someone gets here, we as prosecutors will work with the treatments folks to make sure treatment becomes the priority for folks with mental as opposed to prosecution of those individuals," said District Attorney General Charme Allen.

The state put up $3.5 million to help build the center, along with funds from the city, county and private money. The plan is for 9,000 square feet for help with substance abuse and mental health issues. They hope to have it open by January or February 2018.

"People to spend up to three days where they're going to get mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, they'll get connected to family and friends who they might not be connected with prior to us," said Jerry Vagnier, CEO of Helen Ross McNabb Center.

It's a three-way collaboration between law enforcement, prosecution and the treatment through Helen Ross McNabb.

"I hope the rest of the state and the rest of the country takes notice. This is the way to do. We can do so much better with our mentally ill, and we're doing it right here in Knox County," said Mayor Tim Burchett.

The center will only be open to non-violent offenders.

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