by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:
DAVIDSON, N.C. - After years of debate, Carolinas Healthcare System new mental health hospital will open in Davidson on Monday.
Channel 9 has covered this issue since the hospital first approached Huntersville as a possible location.
The proposal caused a lot of controversy with people living there.
The town eventually rejected the idea, citing zoning issues.
So when Carolinas Healthcare System announced Davidson had accepted their proposal, it didn’t sit too well with some.
“I guess the first knee-jerk reaction is I don't want to a mental hospital in my neighborhood,” said John Harris, who lives in Davidson.
Two years later, he's had a change of heart.
“They did a really good job," he said.
The facility looks more like a hotel than a hospital, with faux wood floors, music piped into the hallways, and even inspirational quotations below each room number.
Staff said their décor was designed to make patients feel more at home, and therefore more open to treatment.
The facility does not have metal detectors, and visitors are not searched. Hospital officials said there will be security guards, but they will not be allowed to carry guns.
Staff said they aren't worried about public safety.
“I'm more concerned about our patients staying safe than anything else. I truly believe our patients are not dangerous people," said Dr. Alicia Romeo.
The hospital will not accept patients with severe mental health issues, or sex offenders.
They also only accept adults.
“We have designed within this building security measures to keep patients safe. Units that are enclosed, furniture that is not destructible, photos that don't have glass, windows that aren't breakable,” Romeo said.
Romeo hopes the facility will help create conversation about mental health, and that the stigma surrounding the issue will lessen.
Hospital officials say they do have plans to expand in the future, but declined to elaborate.
Harris is all for that on one condition: “As long as long they don't change the scope or the type of patients they have there, I don't have any concerns.”
The hospital will accept six or seven patients on Monday when it opens. It has room for 66.
A total of 136 staff members will work at the facility.