Services that will be the precursor to a behavioral health crisis intervention center will be in place by the end of January, Douglas County commissioners were told Wednesday.
Bob Tryanski, the county's director of behavioral health projects, updated commissioners on the status of some of the $1.9 million in behavioral health initiatives the County Commission agreed to fund in 2018. He also shared revised plans for a crisis intervention center, which is now intended to be part of a behavioral health campus on West Second Street.
What Tryanski didn't share was a final cost estimate for the crisis center or how county voters would be asked to pay for it in a bond referendum. Commissioners said those details would be in place in four to six weeks.
Among the initiatives commissioners agreed to fund in 2018 was a $397,000 pilot program creating a multi-agency team to provide intensive case management for people with mental illnesses. That team, made up of staff from DCCCA, Bert Nash and Heartland Health, would be in place at LMH by the end of January, Tryanski said, and would provide the same services for the crisis center when it eventually opened.
Karen Shumate, LMH chief financial officer, said the crisis team would be based out of the hospital even after the crisis center had been completed, and that the hospital would pay the salary and benefits for the team’s director. The team would work with LMH patients in a five-bed unit within the hospital’s emergency department, which should be completed in late February or early March, she said. That unit was a revision of an eight-bed behavioral stabilization center that LMH proposed earlier this year, but which ran into problems with state licensing rules.
The ER unit would cost about $200,000, while the larger unit had a $1.6 million price tag, Shumate said. The county’s 2018 budget included a $400,000 allocation to help LMH with that cost. County Administrator Craig Weinaug said that money would now be used to fund other parts of the behavioral health campus plan.
One major change in the plans Tryanski shared was the size of the crisis center. After a year of discussion, Tryanski and the partnering agencies agreed that the previous crisis center was larger than what the county would need.
With that, Tryanski said, the plans called for a crisis center half the size of the 40,000-square-foot facility plan the county developed in February 2016. It would still have the same features as the original design but at a more appropriate capacity, he said. Features included a relaxation recliner lounge, an eight-bed sobering room, an eight-bed detox unit and an eight-room residential recovery ward, he said.
The crisis center's residential ward would be one of three tiers of housing available on the behavioral health campus, Tryanski said. A second tier would be a transitional two-story home that people leaving the center could stay in for up to nine months, and the third tier would be a 10-unit apartment complex for long-term housing, he said.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority recommended Monday that nearly $500,000 in funding be made available for the proposed transitional home, Commissioner Nancy Thellman said. Shannon Oury, executive director of the housing authority, said the agency had $2 million in federal money that the authority had saved to build the 10 long-term housing units.
During public comment after the presentation, 10 representatives of Justice Matters and Kansas Appleseed requested commissioners place the behavioral health campus and a proposed expansion of the Douglas County Jail on separate bond referendums.