SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Community partners in Greene County have partnered over the past year to help people with mental health crises.
Burrell Behavior Health’s Quick Access Unit has become an alternative to jail for some.
Police in Springfield have become better trained to be able to detect signs of a mental health crisis. People detained after a service call could be redirected to the unit for treatment faster than going through the court process.
“Two years ago we had two options, take them to jail or take them to hospital. Neither is sometimes the right option, ”said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.
He says that so far, nearly 10% of people his department has encountered on service calls have been diverted to the Burrell Behavioral Crisis Center.
“It’s a voluntary thing. They are not locked up. They are free to come and go. Usually, it takes around 4-6 hours for them to be assessed and processed. Then they are connected to services, whether outpatient or hospital, whatever they are, ”he said.
Director Dr Brad Powers says the center offers more than just advice.
“We have a course for substance use disorders that is hospitalized, a standard 28-day treatment. We have a 3 day detox unit. We also have an adult crisis stabilization unit in this one building, ”he explained.
Powers says the program helps ensure the safety of the person in custody as well as that of officers.
“It gives law enforcement a hijacking opportunity to send people here, to get them treated more quickly, maybe even to establish these links with the medical lines earlier.
They would still do them in the court system, but that gives them another option, ”he explained.
The program was launched almost a year ago and is a joint effort between local hospitals, Springfield Police, Burrell Behavioral Health, and Greene County Law Enforcement Tax Funding.
“The spirit of collaboration, cooperation and communication, these three Cs here in Springfield is higher than anywhere else. “It’s everybody coming to the table and going, you know, that’s going to be beneficial,” said Williams.
Springfield’s efforts have become models for other cities in the state. Later this year, a similar location will open in Colombia.
“We are tackling a community problem and we hope to create a real positive solution,” said Powers.
Williams said: “It exceeded my expectations. I just wanted something to help the officers.
Chief Paul Williams said a grant would soon cover the costs of a mobile crisis response unit with mental health professionals who will accompany officers on critical service calls.
The Park Ave Behavioral Crisis Center in northwest Springfield also accepts medical self-referrals, not just people brought in by police.
The costs are affordable and are often covered by insurance or other resources.
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