Shelby Baptist’s new adult inpatient psychiatric unit featured at SSCC luncheon

Baugh spoke on mental health statistics in the county, state and country and the need for the 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit at Shelby Baptist Medical Center. (Reporter Photo/Ginny Cooper McCarley)

Baugh spoke on mental health statistics in the county, state and country and the need for the 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit at Shelby Baptist Medical Center. (Reporter Photo/Ginny Cooper McCarley)

By GINNY COOPER MCCARLEY / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA—Executive Director of Psychiatric Services with Baptist Health Services Zelia Baugh discussed plans for a 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit planned for Shelby Baptist Medical Center during the South Shelby Chamber Luncheon Aug. 7.

Baugh, who has more than 20 years of service in health care and formerly served as the Alabama Mental Health Commissioner, cited a number of statistics on mental health.

Nationally, 36,000 people died by suicide in 2010. In Alabama the suicide rate was 14.2 per 100,000, which is above the national average, Baugh reported.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and every 13.7 minutes someone commits suicide, Baugh said.

Shelby County currently has zero adult inpatient psychiatric beds and recent State Health Planning and Development Agency demonstrated a need for beds, Baugh said.

“Previously, (these patients) had to go to other counties for treatment,” Baugh said. “This can be hard on families who want to visit.”

In August of 2013, Shelby Baptist worked with community leaders including Judge Jim Fuhrmeister, Sheriff Chris Curry, Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock and representatives from the District Attorney’s office to assess the need for an adult inpatient psychiatric unit.

The group “unanimously requested for Shelby to open an adult psychiatric unit,” Baugh said.

Currently, the plans have been drawn and some preliminary work and construction has been completed. The unit is expected to be open the first week of January 2015.

“We’re very excited,” Baugh said. “We want to create an environment where people have hope. It’s truly an honor for us to be able to serve this patient population.”

Curry spoke in favor of the project during the luncheon.

“This is the beginning of what I believe is a major step,” Curry said. “To do this in a year deserves a lot of credit.”