Caro Center site not a sure bet for new state hospital

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TUSCOLA COUNTY (WJRT) - (02/16/17) - Will a state psychiatric hospital remain in Mid-Michigan, or will a new one be built somewhere else?

Governor Rick Synder's budget calls for a new psychiatric hospital to be built to replace the Caro Center, but the state is not saying where it will be built.

With 340 jobs, the Caro Center is one of Tuscola County's biggest employers, but those jobs are in a bit of limbo right now.

“I think it would be phenomenal opportunity for Tuscola County,” said Vicky Sherry, of the Tuscola County Economic Development Corporation.

At first glance, Snyder's budget does look good for Tuscola County.

Funding for a new state psychiatric hospital to replace the Caro Center is in the proposed budget. The facility, which includes 38 buildings, is more than 100 years old.

“A good portion of them are not currently in use because they are so old, they are inhabitable,” said Angela Minucici, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

At this point, the state is not saying where the new hospital will be built.

Minucici says there will be a number of factors looked at before a decision is made.

“So we would think about those across the state that may need to travel to visit their family members that are housed at this facility, as well as those on the wait list right now,” Minucici said.

She says there are about 200 people on the waiting list to get into a state psychiatric center. Michigan currently has five psychiatric centers with the other facilities all south of Caro. The decision on where the psychiatric hospital will be built could be made in May, when the state budget is expected to be approved.

Sherry says the Caro area is the easy pick.

“They have approximately 600 acres there to choose from,” she said.

She adds that if the state decides to go somewhere else, it will hurt the entire region.

“It would be very, very difficult for our area, let alone for the patients that are treated there, where would they go?” she said.

We talked with State Senator Mike Green of Mayville on Thursday and he says he's not sure where this new facility will be built, but he says he will do everything he can to make sure it’s built in Tuscola County.

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