Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

We Need Behavioral Health Hospital in Huntersville

Proposed Huntersville Hospital

Set to be voted on by the Huntersville Town Board this month is a 66-bed behavioral health hospital to be built by Carolinas Healthcare Systems.  CHS officials reviewed the need for the facility last summer at a Lake Norman Chamber Focus Friday.  Del Murphy, vice president of Carolinas Healthcare System’s management company pointed out to business leaders that an average of 20 to 30 patients are held in emergency departments and general acute beds at CMC hospitals in Charlotte, awaiting psychiatric bed placement.  There are simply not enough beds to service our growing county.

A few weeks ago, I attended and spoke at the Huntersville Town Board Public Hearing on the topic.  The Town Hall was overflowing with spectators as well as residents from one of the local neighborhoods.  Most of the residents were there to speak against the project.  They were not against the idea of a hospital – “Just not in my backyard.”

 I listened intently as the hospital administrators and health care officials were questioned by Huntersville Town Board Members and Planning Board staff regarding traffic patterns, roads, buffers, walls, and even landscaping.  The residents themselves then took the podium to speak about home values and the notion they were not informed, even though this issue was written about in the papers this summer.

Grandmamma Feemster - "Tillie"

Given the chance to speak, I wondered aloud why we spent so much time speaking to infrastructure and so little time focusing on people.  I pointed out in the little research I did on the topic, I learned that 1 in 4 families has at least 1 family member with a behavioral health issue.  Certainly behavioral health has touched my family with a grandfather who succumbed to Alzheimer’s and a grandmother who dealt with dementia until we lost her a year ago this month.

Looking around the room, I pointed out that many there that evening were likely being treated for some type of behavioral health problem. In my 2-minute remarks, I reminded the commissioners, as well as the residents, that the people who would be treated in that facility are their neighbors, friends, co-workers and perhaps family members.

Lake Norman Aktion Club - Winter Coat Drive

In addition to my role at the Chamber, I have the opportunity to work with kids with disabilities.  Actually these young people in our Aktion Club are individuals 18 years of age or older.  However, they remain – “my kids.”  They are often referred to in society as special needs.  I learned long ago, they don’t want to be treated special.  They only want to be treated the same.

In a community of 47,000 people and a region that’s home to tens of thousands more, we need this critical healthcare facility.  While a small minority may fear what they do not know, I fear what we will lose as a community by not focusing on people who need our support when it comes to quality health care –  and at a time, when they need our support the most.


February 14, 2012 - Posted by | Social Causes | , , , , ,


  1. Thank you Bill for your well thought out message and facts of our very own community. I am a mother of a ‘special needs’ child and a Director of Nursing Care with a local non-profit that cares for the mentally retarded, Intellectually disabled, Traumatic brain injury and adults with Autism. A mental health facility that is focused on the growing health care needs of our population is a key element in initial diagnosis, crisis interventions and support and education to family members. I doubt many would be voicing their opposition against a state of the art birthing center or a facility just to treat Cardiovascular issues, or even a rehabilitation center for our wounded military, which all have the same purpose. Quality care.
    Truly, we do fear what we do not know or understand . Hollywood has not done a great service to the mental health industry, either. Mental Health includes these conditions I have already mentioned, but also PTSD, Alzheimer, Dementia, Normal pressure hydrocephalus, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, ADD, Depression, which close to 5 million people are treated. I look forward to the Huntersville Town Board approving this facility to show they are meeting the needs of the people. That is just good business and good government,

    Comment by Ms. Angela Lucas | February 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] Systems.  The Chamber supports this facility and I have written about the need for this facility on my blog in addition to a letter of support that the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce sent to the Town Board […]

    Pingback by Lake Norman Chamber President’s e-Brief for March 2, 2012 « W.E. “Bill” Russell’s Blog | March 2, 2012 | Reply

  3. […] This past Monday’s decision by the Huntersville Town Board to reject a proposed 66-bed behavioral health hospital is very disappointing.  The Charlotte Observer wrote an editorial this past Wednesday reflecting the need and how our town missed a great opportunity to meet the health care needs of local residents, not currently addressed, when it comes to behavioral health.  I shared with many my own past personal experiences dealing with my grandparent’s health issues on my blog. […]

    Pingback by W.E. “Bill” Russell’s Blog | March 12, 2012 | Reply

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