Knoxville’s new behavioral urgent health care center officially opened its doors on Friday.
The new facility will offer 16 beds, giving non-violent repeat offenders access to counseling, peer groups and treatment programs. Once they leave after a few days, health professionals will map out a plan to help them continue their progress.
The facility is one of the only centers in the country that provides pre-arrest diversion.
“Without that opportunity, people with mental illness in jails tend to stay there longer than other people,” said Jerry Vagnier, the CEO of Helen Ross McNabb Center. “Their symptoms get worse while they are in jail. So we want to give them the opportunity to have a healthy life and frankly not re-offend when they are in the community.
The Helen Ross McNabb Center is running the facility.