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SalusCare crisis center closed while insurers quibble over fixing damages caused by Hurricane Ian

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Each month, hundreds of children and adults experiencing psychiatric emergencies are admitted to the SalusCare Colonial Campus, the county’s only crisis stabilization unit.

As Lee County’s designated receiving center for those deemed a threat to themselves and others -- the state’s Baker Act -- allow law enforcement and staff at the center to involuntarily hold people for up to 72 hours. People in search of emergency crisis care may voluntarily admit themselves.

On any given day, the 36-bed facility is often full or overflowing. But the center has been shuttered for a month now.

In the best of times, this would be unthinkable. But this is far from the best of times.

On September 28th, Hurricane Ian washed ashore and swamped the building. The monstrous storm obliterated or flattened homes.

It carried people out of sea.

And now the effects of center’s closure are palpable.

People who have never experienced a mental health crisis are experiencing them now.

The hundreds of people that would have been admitted to the crisis stabilization unit, are now being sent to hospital emergency rooms or out of the county, SalusCare CEO and president Stacey Cook said.

The end result is leaving hospitals and out of county facilities, “overburdened [by] getting individuals who should be coming to stay at SalusCare if we were open.”

It’s not just the flood damage that it keeping the Colonial campus shuttered for possibly many more months. It’s a rift between wind insurers and flood insurers.

Adjusters are failing to come to an agreement about which of them is responsible for roughly $2 million in insurance claims.

And because of this, all work to rebuild and repair has been halted.

The stalemate has been going on for two weeks now.

“We are fearful for the entire community,” Cook said. “… It was a devastating blow to SalusCare, to our community, and most importantly, to the people that we are charged with caring for.”

Such feuds are common place for homeowners trying to file claims.

If Ian’s wrath broke open windows and peeled back roofs, that is most likely a claim for relief from wind insurers.

But if water did the most damage that could either be a flood insurance claim or a wind claim depending on a number of things.

That’s what’s going on with insurance adjusters dealing with the SalusCare Colonial campus.

Cooke and others associated with SalusCare hope the adjusters can find compassion so the center can move forward and start rebuilding.

Attorney Eve Volkmann who works to try and settle disagreements between wind and flood insurers doubts that will happen.

“I’ve heard horror stories,” she said.

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