Bert Nash CEO says Treatment and Recovery Center was seeing walk-in patients within hours of its first day of operations
photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World
The doors to Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center opened for the first time Monday morning, and patients are benefiting already.
After months of negotiations, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Douglas County agreed on a lease and operating agreement for the facility at 1000 W. Second St. — right behind LMH Health — last week. Bert Nash CEO Patrick Schmitz told the Journal-World Monday afternoon that just a few hours after beginning intake at 8 a.m., the fruits of that work were being realized — staff at the facility had already seen four walk-in patients and was working to see more.
“It was a hub of activity going on over there already,” Schmitz told the Journal-World. “Spirits were bright and (the staff) were … really excited to be productive. That’s what they’ve been waiting to do, and that’s what’s been happening so far today.”
As the Journal-World reported, the TRC is opening in phases, starting with the front-of-house urgent care unit that opened Monday. That’s the part of the facility where individuals can walk in and, within an hour, receive triage assessments, referrals to other providers and psychiatric medical evaluations and prescriptions. The urgent care unit will operate year-round, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Schmitz said that portion of the facility has been fully staffed since well before Monday. There’s still some hiring taking place for the second part of the facility, the observation and stabilization unit for patients who need to stay for 23 to 72 hours. But Schmitz said many of the positions Bert Nash needs to fill are nearly over the finish line as of Monday, and he’s optimistic about being able to stick to the timeline for opening the unit at partial capacity starting May 25.
“The team feels really ready for that, and we’ve got a handful in the pipeline to go through new employee orientation which is probably next week or the week after,” Schmitz said.
But there’s another key position that will likely take a longer time to bring on board — a full-time medical director. Right now, that role is being filled in an interim capacity by Dr. Cord Huston, a staff psychiatrist and director of the University of Kansas’ adult psychiatry residency at Bert Nash. According to the operating agreement signed last week, Bert Nash has until July 17 to hire a permanent medical director and a full-time director of operations.
Schmitz said that hiring process likely will be much more deliberate and include more direct involvement from the county and social service safety net nonprofit DCCCA, which will eventually play a role in providing peer support at the center. If the two leadership positions aren’t filled by that date, Schmitz said there will already have been plenty of conversation with the county as to what progress is left to be made and how to proceed.
Beyond hiring, Schmitz said the operating agreement lays out the other goals for the facility early on. The agreement includes dozens of milestones and measurements for everything from urgent care unit wait times to performance relative to the center’s approved budget.
“That’s our primary focus — doing a really good job at meeting those, hitting those, exceeding them in every way possible,” Schmitz said. “Just making sure the community knows this is the place to come now.”
And on that front, Schmitz said informing the community that the doors are open for patients likely will involve plenty more word-of-mouth promotion. The TRC’s website will be one avenue for that, as well as social media and advertising efforts. Schmitz said one particular focus will be making sure to spread the word to agencies who will be common referral sources for the center.
With the negotiation process wrapped up, Schmitz said Bert Nash and the TRC can now really begin touting the facility and the care it will provide.
“It’s a relief now that we’ve got this next level of care open for our community, and we’re really looking forward to opening up the entire facility here in about six weeks,” Schmitz said. “We’re able to realize the dream that our community started to think about all those years ago. Now, it’s real, so it’s really exciting.”
photo by: Google Maps