By Maureen Dunleavy, Regional Vice President
Florida Senator, Ana Maria Rodriguez made a tour through the Middle Keys this summer to talk about the Tallahassee legislative session and present a $200,000 check to the Guidance/Care Center (GCC) for a special appropriation to continue renovations to our Marathon inpatient facility! Modernized security upgrades are required to care for the increasing severity of mental illness safely and responsibly among a higher proportion of clients. This request will allow us to update our admission hallway and seclusion rooms.
Our Marathon office is the centralized receiving facility for the Florida Keys. The inpatient unit is Monroe County’s Baker Act public receiving facility and the only detoxification program in this area. As a designated receiving facility, the GCC is required to provide emergency psychiatric care intake, screening, stabilization, and treatment for persons with acute mental illness 24/7, year-round. We must accept any person brought by law enforcement for involuntary examination (The Baker Act) or for detox (The Marchman Act). The GCC provides emergency mental health and substance abuse disorder care to approximately 650 people each year with 12 psychiatric
beds and eight detoxification beds. Often, individuals are exhibiting behaviors that present a danger to themselves or others and we still help them. We have seen an increase in the number of people we are serving and an increase in the severity of their illness which has increased the potential for aggression and violence.
Special appropriations must be sponsored by representatives in the state House of Representatives and the Senate. In order for a project to be funded, it must be filed as a standalone bill, be favorably considered in committee, and only request one-time funding. The GCC started this project in 2019 with local entities matching funds for the legislative project. The Florida Legislation initially approved GCC for this funding in 2020, but it was then vetoed by the governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so grateful for this second chance!