DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — For 15 years, Spectracare Health Systems has been working towards bringing a mental health crisis center for the Wiregrass area, in response to seeing many suffer from various mental health issues.

Recently, the Alabama House of Representatives voted on a general fund budget, and now that crisis center is closer to becoming a reality.

“We talked to our delegation and then the next thing I knew we found out we were going to be in the budget for this year, for October of 2022,” Spectracare Health System Cheif Executive Officer, Melissa Kirkland

As of right now many who are having a mental health crisis are either sent to the emergency room or end up in the legal system due to their illness being untreated.

This new center would act as a mental health emergency room to specifically treat those issues.

“So this crisis center will allow people who are in a behavioral health crisis to be taken to the emergency room for behavioral health,” Kirkland said. “This will be one place they can go and be seen quickly.”

In addition to the crisis center, the house approved the budget to bring a drug forensic lab to Dothan, according to state representative Steve Clouse.

This will eliminate the need for law enforcement to make long trips to deliver drug evidence to labs out-of-town and provide a fast turnaround on analysis for certain cases.

“It’s going to save a lot of time,” Clouse said. “It’s going to save a lot of money for law enforcement that is having to run these drug testing situations to Montgomery or Auburn where they are having to go to now.”

According to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science, the Wiregrass was the area that had the greatest need for a drug forensics lab after seeing up to 4,000 drug-related cases in 2021.

Both the crisis center and the drug forensic lab will be an asset to all in southeast Alabama and if approved are expected to be up and running as soon as the spring of 2023.

The budget now goes to a joint conference committee with the senate where Representative Clouse says he sees no problems in getting approval.