New Crisis Stabilization Unit at former Natchez Children’s Home raises questions among neighbors

Published 12:51 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Dr. Tina Bruce, owner of Bruce Professional Counseling Services, has opened a Crisis Stabilization Unit for children in the former Natchez Children’s Home at 806 N. Union St.

Bruce said the new 28-bed center housed inside the former orphanage has been in progress since January 2022 and opened last Thursday.

“I just haven’t publicized it. I felt I didn’t need to,” she said. “We’re certified to operate through the Mississippi State Department of Health. All our clients are with Child Protective Services and have several different behaviors. The state has custody of them. The mayor and planning committee know about it. Everyone is well aware of what I’ve been doing.”

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Frankie Legaux, director of planning and zoning for the City of Natchez, said Tuesday that whether or not the facility is properly zoned for its use is “being investigated.”

The center’s purpose is to provide care to children, both boys and girls between six and 18 years of age, going through emotional and behavioral health difficulties with certified medical personnel on staff, 24-7. Bruce said a client’s stay is typically no more than seven to 14 days.

“We have a physician and registered nurses on staff and direct care workers. … It’s similar to Brentwood (in Flowood),” she said. “Now we just have one in this area which we did not have before.”

Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare located in Flowood provides inpatient treatment for children, adolescents and adults living with mental health difficulties. According to its website, the facility services individuals ages 5 and up.

Since the opening of Bruce’s crisis stabilization unit, neighbors have raised questions on social media about its intent and approval. One woman reported seeing a teenage girl being removed from the facility in a police car on Friday evening.

Bruce confirmed a teen had damaged some property and Bruce was forced to call the authorities, but it was an isolated incident. She said the facility is secure with a fenced-in playground and children are not permitted to leave the premises unsupervised.

Bruce added she has put a lot of work into the property to meet city and state requirements.

“It’s like a home away from home,” she said. “It’s a nice environment the kids are in and we help them in any aspect we can. We don’t judge those kids. The community should come together instead of criticizing what is going on.”