KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Lakeshore Mental Health Institute is closed - when people with mental problems are arrested, they have to go somewhere else.
In May we told you about the Knox County Sheriff's Office taking those inmates as far as Chattanooga or Johnson City.
Now the state is taking over that job - with a transport team based at Lakeshore.
The state's newly created program called the Tennessee Behavioral Health Transformation Office is made up of 13 former Lakeshore employees.
They're based at Lakeshore, and since late June, they've been transporting former patients to other psychiatric hospitals in the area.
The employees will transport patients who need short-term hospitalization.
"I think they're going to get used to using us as a tool in their toolbox with any patient issues that they may have," said Bob Micinski, director of the East Tennessee Behavioral Health Transformation Office.
The patients will now go to Peninsula Hospital, Ridgeview Psychiatric Facility in Oak Ridge, or Woodridge Hospital in Johnson City.
The mental health providers are receiving state money for their care.
Under extreme conditions, the patients could be transferred to facilities like Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute in Chattanooga.
"These 13 staff members will transfer will transfer patients that are in-patient from one of these three institutes to moccasin in Chattanooga, if the acuity is too high," said Micinski.
The program was set up in part to relieve the burden of patient transportation from local law enforcement.
The sheriff's office did most of the transportation of patients as Lakeshore began to close.
Despite the new help, health officials say the sheriff's office is still making transports.
"They're doing a few more transports than they anticipated, and of course the dept of health wants to work with them to reduce the number or eliminate the number of transports that Knox County Sheriffs will have to do," said Micinski.
Lakeshore's campus isn't entirely empty. Eleven long term patients that remain are now under the care of the Helen Ross McNabb Center.
Those patients have been moved to the fourth floor in the Chota building where McNabb Center staff will provide treatment and care.
The non-profit is leasing space from the state for five years at $1 per year.
The non-profit plans to move the patients to a renovated Willow Cottage by the end of the year.
"The significance of having a cottage on campus is for the folks who are moving from a hospital to a residency setting need as minimal transition as possible," said Jerry Vagnier, vice president of operations for Helen Ross McNabb.
The McNabb Center would be responsible for transporting those 11 patients, and not the state.
"If our patients needed care, they'd go to an outpatient setting like the Helen Ross McNabb Center or Cherokee Health Systems or something like that," said Vagnier.
The transportation department will be manned around the clock, but will not be used as a holding facility.
6 News asked what will happen to the remaining land on Lakeshore's campus. The city of Knoxville says it's in preliminary talks to takeover the 60 acres of land from the state.
The city would pay for any demolition of the buildings. A 1999 master agreement calls for the Lakeshore park to be expanded.
"That's what the difficulty is about, which is the removal of existing buildings, re-configuration of the land, all of that is going to be costly, and most is not budget at this time," said Bill Lyons, deputy to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
In addition to working with the state, the city says it's working with the group that manages Lakeshore Park on future plans.
Right now, there is no timetable for the property transfer to happen.