The push is on to keep a state-run psychiatric center in Caro, and avoid losing the 360 jobs it currently delivers as Tuscola County’s second largest employer.
The reaction is at all levels locally, from state and county officials to the Caro planning commission.
It comes on the heels of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s release of a proposed 2018 budget that includes spending about $115 million to replace Caro Center, located in Tuscola County’s Indianfields Township.
According to the 192-page document outlining Snyder’s budget, the “new facility will help provide a safer and more modern setting for state psychiatric hospital patients and staff.”
“Over time, the infrastructure of the facilities has deteriorated making the current facility a hazardous environment for both patients and staff,” said Angela Minicuci, spokesman, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Of the 38 buildings on the property, the newest is over 60 years old and 18 of the buildings are uninhabitable, in addition to two more buildings, which closed in 2015 due to their condition.”
Minicuci said the new facility “would be to best serve the current roughly 150 patients at Caro, as well as increase the bed capacity by 50 to address some of the waiting list that currently exists for the state hospital system (this list has roughly 200 people on it at any given time).”
She also told The Advertiser that 130 “new staff” would be added to ramp up services.
The problem, however, is that no one knows – or is saying – where the new facility will be and the possibility of it being outside Tuscola County is a scary thought to people like Mike Hoagland, controller, Tuscola County.
Caro Center is the second largest employer in Tuscola County, which is the largest.
Minicuci said a final decision will coincide with legislative approval of the budget that typically occurs in June. Design and construction of the new facility could take up to three years before it would be operational, she said.
“There’s no question a move would be devastating,” Hoagland told The Advertiser. “It would have a crippling effect on the local economy.” (Read more)
(This story originally appeared in the March 4, 2017 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read in its entirety online here.)