Flagler County hospital prioritizes mental health with the new CAIR Center
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FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler Health Plus held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to mark the formal opening of the new CAIR Center in St. Augustine.

As mental health continues to take center stage in wake of mass shootings across the U.S., the CAIR, which stands for “Crisis, Assessment, Intervention and Referral,” Center was created to help people of all ages get the treatment they need.

Fifty-six people were helped when the CAIR Center hosted a soft opening. One family needed help with their teenager. The family shared this statement:

“A visit to the emergency room was unnecessary but waiting months for a provider wasn’t realistic either. The CAIR provided just the right level of care we needed at just the right time.”

The CAIR Center is hosting a community open house on June 18 from 10 a.m. to noon.

One of the center’s main goals is to provide care before a person’s mental health spirals out of control. Flagler Health’s director of behavioral health services says recent events have brought to light the importance of feeling comfortable reaching out.

“We see it all the time in our business. People wait until it reaches that emergent crisis and law enforcement have to be involved and medical professionals have to be involved. And that’s not always the best intervention for folks,” said Valerie Duquette, Director of Behavioral Health Services.

Duquette describes the purpose of the center as a place where people can feel comfortable and confidently know they have somewhere to reach out to for help during a crisis.

“This is a place where there is no judgment. This is a place for people who are wanting to help you and wanting to make sure that you’re able to get back to all of the things you love,” Duquette said.

The rooms’ interiors are filled with calming hand-painted murals — a picture of a dolphin or an ocean setting — to create a comforting environment. In these rooms, a team of experts works to devise a plan for each individual need. President and CEO Carlton DeVooght said the goal is to intervene before a crisis escalates to a dangerous level.

“It’s very calming, especially in a crisis situation. It’s much better than being led into an emergency room setting where it’s very clinical,” DeVooght said.

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