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Linn County Mental Health Access Center ready to accept patients soon

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the completion of the Linn County Mental Health Access Center.

The $3.5 million dollar center will be open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Mental Health Access Center Director, Erin Foster says anyone can walk in the front doors.

"We know mental health needs through the pandemic and after the derecho are even higher than they were before, so a center like this where someone can come in and get so many different services in one building is huge to breaking barriers," Foster said,

Those in need will first meet with staff from Foundation 2 for triage to see what they need help with.

Then they will have access to services such as, crisis observation.

The center provides an alternative to jail or the emergency room for those 18 years of age and older facing a mental health or substance abuse crisis.

Law enforcement can take patients through a special entry way and give them access to the center's services.

"That person is not in custody, access centers are very large jail diversion programs because law enforcement can work together with the services here to get the patient the help that they need," Foster said.

At this time ambulances will not bring patients to the Mental Health Access Center.

Linn County Supervisor, Ben Rogers, led the development of the Access Center.

Rogers said before now, police and emergency room doctors did not have a place to safely divert those in crisis.

"Linn County's Mental Health Access Center answers that question, with an array of services designed to meet people where they are at, help them deescalate and create a treatment plan," said Rogers.

The services the Mental Health Access Center can provide:

  • Immediate triage and screening
  • Suicide assessment and safety planning
  • Crisis stabilization and observation
  • Subacute services
  • Crisis psychiatric evaluations
  • Substance abuse assessment and counseling
  • Care coordination and referrals

The center also has a telehealth room any of the providers can use, eliminating another barrier for access.

Access Center services will be provide by:

  • Abbe Health
  • ASAC
  • Foundation 2
  • Penn Center

Linn County's Mental Health Access Center is one of the first in Iowa. Another is located in Johnson County.

The official opening to the public will take place later in March.

Kennedy DeRaedt

Photojournalist

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