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A long-awaited central Arkansas center to treat people experiencing a mental health crisis will open in early July, the county judge of Pulaski County said Tuesday.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held July 6 at the unit, 3001 W. Roosevelt Road in Little Rock. The center will begin accepting patients on or around July 9, Barry Hyde said at a monthly criminal justice committee meeting.

The unit is one of four authorized by Act 423 of 2017. Sebastian County’s unit began accepting patients in March. Units in Washington County and Craighead County are underway.

Crisis units give trained law enforcement officers a place to take people who are in the throes of a mental health crisis but are not actively homicidal or suicidal. Those people rack up emergency room visits, which can be expensive, or spend time in jail, which is not conducive to treating a mental illness.

Eligible patients must be adults who volunteer for treatment and did not commit a felony while in crisis.

Patients at Pulaski County’s 16-bed center will receive medical care from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences professionals. Each person is expected to stay less than four days.

Pulaski County government also entered an agreement with Grant, Perry, Saline, Jefferson and Lonoke counties and the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Maumelle to treat their residents.

The unit will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those cities and counties will pay a daily fee, up to the length of stay, for each person they deliver for treatment.

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