Lakeshore closes, signals end of mental hospital era

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Lakeshore Medical closed its doors Monday, bringing the region one step closer to the end of the mental hospital era.

"It happened when deinstitutionalization occurred and people really got pushed out of the hospitals into community care," said director of adult outpatient mental health services for Helen Ross McNabb Michael Watke.

It's a move the country's been making for 50 years. Half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act into law, pushing mental care to community programs.

Lakeshore's been downsizing for year, cutting patients by the hundreds. Last year, the last few were placed into the care of the Helen Ross McNabb Center

"We do a lot of prompting in regards to activities of daily living so we're telling people take a shower, making sure people are taking their medicines, making sure people are brushing their teeth -- all of those normal tasks people take for granted," said Watke.

The program's a 24 hour support program offering intensive care. Twelve adults are cared for in a cottage just feet from the old hospital.

"Our goal would be that in 2 to 3 years, people would start to step down to independent living. They would be in their own apartment and then we would wrap some of our intensive care programs around them like the PACT program," said Watke.

The PACT program offers intensive at home care. It allows adults to live on their own with more independence, reintegrating into society as the end goal of deinstitutionalization.

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