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Scott Burgess, CEO of the David Lawrence Center, Naples, Florida was very kind to answer few questions for us via email.

Question:  Scott, you are a hardworking and talented man, what made you take that job with the David Lawrence Center in Naples?

I had been at my previous organization for almost 22 years and had, quite literally, just been talking with my wife about her thoughts associated with considering new doors opening, if they presented themselves, when I was outreached by a recruiter associated with DLC’s search.  Neither she nor I had felt a ‘stirring’ related to a potential change before this and I had not interviewed in decades.  We prayed about the potential and believed, if it was meant to be, all things would fall perfectly into place and they did.  In the interviewing process, I met with the incredible DLC Board of Directors and staff and I could easily see DLC is a very special place!  Then, I came to realize the great and growing needs in the Collier community and Florida at large and felt, this is a place I can try to make a significant impact.

Question: How many “hospital beds” does David Lawrence Center have? 

We have 3 emergency assessment center beds, 30 inpatient treatment beds for mental health (separate units for children and adults), 15 beds on our detoxification unit and 18 beds in our substance use disorder residential rehabilitation unit.  So that totals 66 on campus.  We also sponsor some long-term, affordable, supported housing for those in need, that is another 24 beds.

Question: In which cases simply seeing a doctor at the David Lawrence Center doesn’t help and the patient has to be hospitalized?

Inpatient care is always the last option and is only used when an individual is considered an imminent danger to self or others.  In rare cases inpatient care is required when an individual’s symptoms are so severe they can’t take care of themselves well enough to guard from serious harm.  Other than these situations, which is the vast majority of the time, we care for individuals in an outpatient and/or community-based setting.

Question: What can we do to increase the number of hospital beds at the David Lawrence Center?

Given Florida ranks 49th in funding for state spending on mental health issues, second worst in the Country, it is clear we will need to address this as a local need with a local response.  For almost 50 years DLC has partnered with amazing donors, local government and community leaders to continue building to meet the needs of the Collier community.  We are most hopeful we can work with incredible members of our community to continue to do so as we move forward as well.  It truly does ‘take a village!’

Question: What are the challenges the David Lawrence Center faces today?

With growing awareness of the seriousness of both mental illness and addictions challenges and the growing Collier populations, we are seeing a significant growth in need for care.  In fact, just 5 years ago we provided 147,000 services across our three sites and programs, fast forward to the fiscal year that just ended June 30, 2017, we provided 228,000 services.  Our biggest challenges are associated with having enough financial resources to grow to keep up with demand and ensure access to care for all in need.

Question: How do you think our community, Collier county, will change say in 5 years, 10 years?

From everything that I have seen in forecasting materials, all concur that Collier will continue to grow in population, maybe another 100,000 residents in the next 10-15 years.  That is a continuation of significant growth already seen across the last 10-15 years!  As a County we need to ensure we are attending to both the physical infrastructure growth needs (roads, water, sewer, etc.) and we need to ensure we are attending to the human infrastructure needs (schools and essential services-such as healthcare, including mental healthcare).  I believe Collier County is up to the task!  There are many highly dedicated, extremely bright and passionate members in our community already working on planning for this coming growth.

I really believe another area also needing focused attention, concrete planning and active mobilization is affordable housing in Collier.  This is a major challenge for many and our community needs to tackle this matter to assure all who work in Collier have an opportunity to live in Collier.

Questions: What should we do to better prepare for the changes ahead?

Continue with the various planning groups and develop associated strategies.  I am excited to see many such active planning groups and I’m humbled to be participating in several of them working in partnership with incredibly talented individuals truly committed to ensuring Collier is the best place, to live, work and play.  Examples include: Sheriff Rambosk and Superintendent Patton’s active leadership in many leading-edge initiatives, the Board of County Commissioners just having the first ever public workshop on mental health and addictions challenges in our community, the Chamber of Commerce having many initiatives they are active in advancing, the Blue Zones Project, etc.  Preparation takes planning, prioritization, diligence and commitment; I see this all being fostered in Collier.