State hospital celebrates a decade in Tupelo

TUPELO – Over the past 10 years, the North Mississippi State Hospital has helped more than 6,000 people stay closer to home during a mental health crisis.
Staff and friends of the Tupelo psychiatric hospital celebrated its 10th anniversary Thursday. The 50-bed inpatient facility is now supplemented by two 16-bed crisis centers in Corinth and Batesville.
“We have grown into a wonderful system that benefits the community,” said hospital director Paul Callens.
Before the Tupelo hospital opened in 1999 and its twin, the South Mississippi State Hospital in Purvis, in 2000, people who had been committed to the state hospital waited for weeks before space opened up at Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield or East Mississippi State Hospital in Meridian.
“These were the first inpatient beds authorized in 100 years,” said Wynona Winfield, who was the first director of the North Mississippi State Hospital and now leads the Purvis facility.
Over the past 10 years, the wait time has slowly come down.
“Five or six years ago, it was 14 to 16 days,” Callens said. “In the last couple of months, it’s been one day.”
In addition to getting people the help they need faster, the regional mental health hospitals mean people stay closer to their families.
“The blessing of this facility is being able to have more time with families, which gives us a much bigger picture,” said Keith Pruett, a mental health technician who been with the North Mississippi State Hospital since it opened and has served 17 years in mental health.
Now the challenge is to work with community mental health centers and expand access to mental health services, said Ed LeGrand, executive director for the state Department of Mental Health.
“We are at the crossroads,” LeGrand said. “We need build on our success and bridge the gaps in what we do.”
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or


Michaela Morris/Daily Journal

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