Caro residents take campaign for psychiatric center to Lansing | Michigan Radio

Caro residents take campaign for psychiatric center to Lansing

Aug 27, 2019

Dozens of Caro residents gathered at the state Capitol to urge state officials to restore plans to build a new psychiatric facility at the Caro Center.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Caro High School band played the school’s fight song as supporters of their hometown’s century-old psychiatric center rallied on the state capitol steps.

Residents of the small community in the Thumb rallied at the state Capitol on Tuesday. They urged state leaders to reconsider a plan to scale back a planned psychiatric facility in their town.

The Caro Center was in line to get a new 200-bed facility. But earlier this year, the Whitmer administration stopped construction of the $115 million facility.   

A consultant brought in to review the project suggested a different approach to meet Michigan’s need for greater mental health care. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has recommended the state pare down those plans in Caro, and focus on renovating the existing facility. The recommendation would also provide more psychiatric beds statewide.

State Senator Kevin Daley (R-Arcadia Township) isn’t giving up on a new facility in Caro, just maybe not the original 200-bed facility.

“We have basically played our hand and already said we could live with a 150 bed facility. Just replace what’s there already,” says Daley.

Daley expects talks between the Legislature and the governor’s office to continue into the fall.

Meanwhile, the Caro Center’s staff is waiting to see what will happen.

Reamy Berlin is a nurse at the center. She remains hopeful that the state will decide to return to the original plan and keep the century-old Caro Center as the focus of the state of Michigan’s mental health services.

“It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. It’s serene. And that goes a long ways with recovery for the mentally ill,” says Berlin.