Guidance Center receives grant for crisis stabilization center

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

The Guidance Center has been awarded $1 million in grant funding to open a crisis stabilization center in Leavenworth.

Keith Rickard, executive director of The Guidance Center, said the crisis stabilization center is designed to provide around the clock mental health services. He hopes the center will open in early 2022.

He said the goal of the center is to provide short-term treatment which may enable people to avoid hospitalization. And the center will provide relief to emergency rooms and law enforcement officers who are on the frontline of helping people in mental health crises.

Rickard said several crisis stabilization centers already are located in the state. The one slated for Leavenworth will serve a seven-county region.

Rickard said The Guidance Center, which is a community mental health organization, received a grant from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services that will provide $200,000 for startup costs and $800,000 for operating the facility. He said the state will continue to provide $800,000 in funding for operating expenses on an annual basis.

Rickard said The Guidance Center is seeking additional funding from the seven counties, including Leavenworth County, that will be served by the crisis stabilization center.

He said $150,000 has been requested from the Leavenworth County government.

During a budget work session Wednesday, county commissioners discussed considering the request as they distribute some of the money the county received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Rickard said he also has been in discussions with county officials about housing the center at the former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building.

The hospital closed last year, and the building was donated to the county government.

Rickard said the crisis stabilization center will have a sobering unit. He said some patients seen by The Guidance Center are intoxicated.

"It's hard for us to really understand what they need until they're sober," he said.

The crisis stabilization center also will include what Rickard described as observation recliners. He said there also will be a stabilization unit which will include beds where patients may stay for a few days or up to a month.

A crisis stabilization center was included in recommendations made in 2019 by members of the Leavenworth County Mental Health Task Force.

Members of the task force sought voter approval for a county tax increase to fund their recommendations. But the task force withdrew the ballot question before it was put before voters last year. The task force cited the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic when asking to withdraw the ballot question.

Rickard said the seven counties served by the crisis stabilization center will be asked to contribute funding on an annual basis unless other financial resources become available.

"So we would be asking the counties to support it perpetually," he said.

Rickard said the center will bill insurance companies and Medicaid for services when possible.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR