St. Augustine mental health center opens to help fill a service gap

Flagler Health+ board members and administrators cut the ribbon at the Crisis Assessment Intervention and Referral Center at Flagler Hospital on Thursday morning.  From left: Board members Ray Matuza and Karen Taylor;  Valerie Duquette, who is in charge of the behavioral health department at Flagler Health+;  CEO and President Carlton DeVooght;  Chief Operating Officer Vincent Johnson;  and board member Bill Abare.

People experiencing a mental health crisis can bypass the emergency room at Flagler Hospital and instead opt for the new CAIR Center.

The Crisis Assessment Intervention and Referral Center offers mental and behavioral health services to both youth and adults in a more peaceful setting, Flagler Health+ officials said.

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The goals of the CAIR Center include reducing “unnecessary Baker Act admissions” and helping people avoid the criminal justice system, as well as reducing recurring hospital visits “while providing those in mental health crisis a supportive and approachable environment to receive support,” according to a news release from Flagler Health+.

The center has been operating for several weeks, but Flagler Health+ officials celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting on Thursday morning at the center at 300 Health Park Blvd., Suite 1008. Officials invited media and others to take a tour.

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