A crowd full of well-known community representatives and residents turned out Thursday to show support for Gateway Behavioral Health Services’ vision for the future.

Chief law enforcement officials, health care employees, court representatives, area county and city commissioners, as well as state representatives, listened to a presentation by Gateway to Frank Berry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, at Gateway.

David Crews, CEO of Gateway, shared an endless and harrowing list of statistics of the ever-growing need for behavioral health services at the national and local levels.

Monetary figures and manhours required by the city and county police departments, area healthcare providers and nearby crisis centers for dealing with patients who fall under the umbrella of Gateway’s services were staggering.

In sharing the data, along with what appeared to be overwhelming support from local leaders, Crews told Berry that Gateway hopes in the near future to repurpose the current administrative space into a crisis stabilization unit with 24 beds, add four to six beds for observation and assessment, repurpose its current crisis unit on Burgess Road as a short-term substance abuse residential location for men and improve accommodations for walk-ins and law enforcement drop off, among other service enhancements.

Though final details, including a feasibility study and cost, are still in the works, Crews hopes the presentation made an impact on Berry in terms of potential funding.

And it did. Berry and his staff said they were extremely impressed.

They agreed to remain in close contact with Crews to see what the state could provide in the near future.

“All of the pieces are in place,” Berry said. “Now what the department has to look at is how do we come up with some funding. The department, in my opinion, can’t walk away from a group like this (that) says we want to do something better for our community. I think you’ve presented a great approach for moving forward.”

Berry’s department took over Gateway just two years ago following alleged mismanagement of funds, conflicts of interest on the part of past board members and a myriad of other concerns.

Berry noted that the facility had come a long way in two years.

Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 350.

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