The new Park Royal mental health hospital in south Fort Myers hopes to hear soon whether its application to become a privately operated Baker Act center has been approved. The state Department of Children and Families held a public hearing on the request Monday.
Southwest Florida is about 30 beds short of what’s necessary to help people with mental illnesses who’ve been detained for an evaluation out of concern they may harm themselves or others. This shortage may end in a few weeks when the privately operated 76 bed Park Royal Hospital gets a Baker Act license. Director of Clinical Operations and Development for the psychiatric Hospital, Ed Handy, said there have been no objections to the application.
“There are not enough mental health beds in this entire region let alone the county. And there’s such a need given the economy the way it is, giving what’s going on in the world. More and more people are surrendering if you will to mental processing and behavioral issues that perhaps might not have been surrendered to a decade ago. It’s not just more popular but it’s more accepted for people to accept that they may need some support psychiatrically,” he said.
The David Lawrence Center in Collier County and Lee Mental Health Center in Fort Myers are both public Baker Act designation centers. Park Royal does not take children under 18 but it does have a special unit for senior citizens. He says they hope to have their Baker Act license in about two weeks.