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Linn County Supervisors to vote on mental health Access Center

LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — A first-of-its-kind mental health access center will soon be coming to Cedar Rapids, after the Linn County Supervisors plan vote to approve its location, at tomorrow’s meeting.

“If you talk with law enforcement they say, ‘that needed to be built yesterday and how fast can you get it built’?,” said Linn County Supervisor, Ben Rogers.

Mental health services are in high demand. Which often times leaves jail cells and hospital beds picking up the slack, as law enforcement agencies have limited options when dealing with someone in a crisis.

However, soon mental health counselors, like Drew Martel at Foundation 2, will be there to help.

“We don’t want law enforcement and jails to be our mental health providers. A lot of the time, someone who is in a crisis doesn’t know where to go,” said Foundation 2’s Mobile Crisis Program Manager, Drew Martel.

“This is a location that will have service providers that will help an individual, if they’re in crisis. It’ll help people if they’re sober and just need a place to go instead of jail. It’ll also have one of the first community detox centers,” said Supervisor, Rogers.

After the legislature changed the way mental health resources were managed, the county had surplus money set aside. Meanwhile, Linn County Public Health finalized its plans to move into a new building, leaving a county-owned space up for grabs.

“It takes away the questions of who would run it, how would they fund it, which providers would have the capabilities of it? This is a Linn County center and people are going to contract for the services and there is the stability and predictability,” said Supervisor, Rogers.

Multiple mental health resources agencies, like Foundation 2 will be located in a one-stop-shop campus style center.

“We anticipate a lot of people coming into the access center will need suicide risk screenings and assessments. We believe they will probably first touch base with a mobile crisis counselor. They’ll see them, assess their needs and then funnel them to the correct services at the access center. Whether that’s substance use or crisis stabilization,” said Martel.

The center will be available to anyone on a walk-in basis and focus on being a solution.

“If someone could be diverted from jail or from the emergency room, where would they go? This answers that question, we have total buy-in support from law enforcement, from hospitals, from the community,” said Supervisor, Rogers.

According to the Linn County Sheriff’s quarterly budget report, the county spent the most money on inmate care. A cost of more than $760,000.00 in just a couple of months. The Access Center does have the potential to save taxpayer dollars by keeping more people out of jails.

According to Supervisor Rogers, they hope to have the center up and running as soon as the end of 2019 or in early 2020, after some renovations to the building.

The vote is scheduled to take place tomorrow, during the supervisors meeting.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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