Knox County Commission and the Sunshine – Gill and Smith and the Urgent Behavioral Health Center

Today Knox County Commissioners Randy Smith and Evelyn Gill sun-shined lunch at The Blackhorse Pub & Brewery in Downtown Knoxville.


Knox County Commissioners Evelyn Gill and Randy Smith at The Blackhorse Pub at 430 S. Gay Street.

The major topic was the Knox County Urgent Behavioral Health Center, which opened March 16, 2018. Our coverage of the opening is here. The center is located in Smith’s district off Western Avenue.

Smith had a recent meeting with Helen Ross McNabb. He has since met with City Council woman Seema Singh Perez as the Center is located in her city council district as well.

In today’s meeting with Gill he explained that the State of Tennessee is withdrawing their monetary contribution to the center. Last year the centers budget was $2.6 million and served 400 clients. When the Center was opened, intake was to keep the clients for 72 hours.

It seems Helen Ross McNabb will be seeking to modify, amend the contract.

The initial information  is that the operating budget will be closer to $1.5 million, funded without state dollars, so the financial burden will be on the county and city. The initial talks is that clients will be held for 24 hours instead of 72 hours.

Commissioner Gill said that in the last several weeks information came out that the Sheriffs Department is not allowed to transport mental health individuals. So, how will the inmates/clients be transported to the Center?

If in one year, the Center served 400 clients at a cost of $2.6 million ($6,500 per client) and the stay was 72 hours. Is it reasonable to assume that with a 24 hour stay, they will serve 1,200 clients at a cost of $1.4 million ($1,166.00 per client)?

Granted the cost per is coming down per client, but the turnover is every day.

Our Knox County School kids don’t get that kind of financial resources.

How can the state just walk away?

All of this is very early in the process. But I will follow it the best I can. So, stay tuned.

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