Former nursing home to become homeless and mentally ill facility

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A former Jonesboro nursing home will soon have a new life.

Mayor Harold Perrin announced Thursday the former Ridgecrest Health Care facility on North Church Street will soon serve Craighead County's homeless.

The facility will also include a mental health crisis center covering the 13-county region in Northeast Arkansas.

The facility will have 84 beds total.

Sheriff Boyd said Midsouth Health will operate the 16-bed unit for those with mental health illnesses. The Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro LLC will focus on the shelter operations of the remainder.

"I couldn't be more excited about what this means for some of our most needy citizens," Perrin said. "To have private partners step up with an offer like this just touches my heart."

It is the result of multiple partnerships, including Ridgecrest, the City and County, non-profit Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro, Mid-South Health Systems and the volunteers running Jonesboro's HUB (Helping Underserved Belong).

Sheriff Marty Boyd said he met with a local homeless ministries group that agreed to share the space.

Governor Asa Hutchinson's committed financial support for four crisis stabilization units around the state to open. Craighead County was chosen as one host site and granted $1.6 million to run the facility. This unit will have 16 beds and doctors and trained experts to operate it.

"The crisis unit means we will no longer be treating mental illness as a crime," Boyd said. "When we come in contact with individuals we deem in mental-health crisis, we can now divert them from jail and toward treatment."

Boyd went on to say, "A lot of the people that we come in contact with doesn't have a family base or a home life so after they are stabilized from that mental health issue that they are having or diagnosed with what kind of issue they have, you know it is going to be very possible transfer straight over to the homeless shelter where they can receive more services there."

Though county officials are on board with the facility serving both the homeless and those with mental health illnesses, mixed emotions are throughout neighboring residents.

"I think it is a recipe for disaster," said one resident. "Even when it was a nursing home, there wasn't enough security to keep old people in so I don't know how they are going to keep crazy people in."

Another resident had a different opinion.

"I have no fears about it," said the resident. "Everyone does need a place to be taken care of and to live."

Though some are uneasy about the plans for the facility, they said they won't have a problem with it as long as it is safely secured.

"I just hope they really have a chance to get people in there to do their job and keep it safe if that is what they are doing in this area," said a resident.

Completion of the transaction should take 30 to 60 days, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said.

Ridgecrest Health Care facility is a 24,700-square-foot defunct facility on North Church Street.

Region 8 News will have more information as details emerge. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android