Hamilton County commissioners voted Wednesday to accept $25,000 grants from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and CHI Memorial to get started with moving addicted and mentally ill people out of cells and into treatment beds.
Sheriff Jim Hammond last week said he had formed a team, including the insurer and the hospital, to work on the long-standing problem of locking up sick people.
Locally and nationally, cuts in mental health spending and the closure of many treatment centers have left jails the only place to take addicted and mentally ill people who act out or endanger themselves and others.
Hammond said he wants to seek out an established mental health provider that can run a program to house and treat those people outside of a jail setting.
He said he will be asking the county to pony up $25,000 for the effort, as well, but that request hasn't yet been presented to the commission.