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Like an 'emergency room for mental health crisis.' Avita opening new center this spring
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The new Avita behavioral crisis center along Cornelia Highway is beginning to take shape Friday, March 5, 2021, in East Hall. - photo by Scott Rogers

Avita Community Partners is hoping to have substantially completed its behavioral health crisis center by the middle of April and plans to open in stages.

Avita CEO Cindy Levi said they will then apply for licensing and a certificate of occupancy for the center that would include a 24-hour walk-in crisis center, a 23-hour temporary observation unit with 15 beds and a crisis stabilization unit with 30 beds. 

Though the timetable for opening the building in stages is fluid, Levi said they would be moving Avita’s current crisis stabilization unit in Flowery Branch to the 2467 Old Cornelia Highway location. The crisis stabilization unit is intended for people who would likely stay for a few days either for detoxification or support for a mental health crisis.

“We will be expanding our crisis stabilization services first, and then as we add staff, we will be opening more beds until we reach the capacity of 30 for the crisis stabilization unit,” Levi said.

They will then be opening the walk-in crisis center and the 23-hour observation unit as they acquire more staff and train them.

Levi previously described the walk-in crisis center as being like an “emergency room for mental health crisis,” potentially providing prescriptions for someone out of medication until they can be seen by their prescribing physician. 

Over the past year, Levi said Avita’s assertive community treatment team has worked alongside Anjana Freeman, the mental health clinician for Gainesville Police.

“Let’s say for example one of the individuals that we’re serving is picked up by the police department, and they’re aware of our involvement. Then they can notify us, and our team can become involved and assist with that,” she said.

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Construction continues on the Avita behavioral crisis center along Cornelia Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers