Mental health patient home set for October completion

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - It's been years in the planning, but a new home for the mentally challenged is almost complete. It will house up to nine residents who otherwise would face extended hospitalization or life out on their own.

"These are people that are completely disabled because of their mental illness. These are folks that cannot live independently on their own. These are folks that need help on a very regular basis," says Foundation for Mental Health Director Bill Giguere.

Giguere says the new home on Elm Street in Athens is designed to save a number of patients from hospitalization. And with the number of hospital beds for the mentally troubled declining in Alabama, this becomes the safety net for a handful in need. It will be their home.

"The difference between this and a group home is a group home has 24/7 staff, they have offices. This will not. This strictly will be their home. Because its right next to the Athens Limestone Counseling Center, there will be staff checking on them every day and we do have staff there 24/7, there will be immediate care for them if need be. But this is a home, it's not a treatment facility," Giguere explains.

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The home will have up to nine residents, each with their own bedroom and bath. Giguere says these are patients who will not require constant care, "But do well as long as they have regular intervention, sometimes even daily but can sustain themselves throughout the long haul."

Giguere explains the home cost about $530,000, more than half of which was private donation. Officials say it should be complete by early October.