SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Those in the area struggling with addiction or mental illness will soon have another place to find support and treatment.
The partnership between the county, Burrell Behavioral Health, and other entities was made official with a contract signing that pledges $1 million in public funding to open a Behavioral Crisis Center in West Springfield.
The agreement was a culmination of about three years worth of work that started with Greene County voters passing a 1/2 cent sales tax in 2017. One of the main purposes of that tax was to address mental health and substance abuse in the county. Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch, who has spent almost all of his career dedicated to public health, says the voters trusted them to get this done.
“We went to the taxpayers and said, ‘This has been determined to be a real need for this community.’ The taxpayers said,’OK let’s address it,’ and the voted to do it,” Bengsch says.
Speaking to the dozens of people in the Historic Court House for today’s signing, Bengsch stressed the importance of the right kind of help for people in need.
“We don’t need to be putting people in the hospital or in jail that don’t need to be there, but that’s the only place we’ve got to go with them. We need someplace that can get them help,” Bengsch says.
The passing of the tax in 2017 was followed up by a local 15-month study, and Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard says that the study determined what was really needed in the county to fight those issues.
“We identified that crisis access is really one of those areas that we really need to develop resources for,” says Goddard.
That lead to today, where the Greene County Commission and Burrell President & CEO CJ Davis signed an agreement that will transform a Burrell building at 800 S. Park Ave. into the new Behavioral Crisis Center.
It will operate to get people in touch with the help they need within 24 hours through things like detox or outpatient therapy. It will be the first of its kind in Southwest Missouri.
“From there, we will stabilize them. If they need additional care, we’ll move them into our crisis center, where they can stay for 3-5 more days. Also attached to that building is a social detox program, which is a 30-day program. So it’s really a true crisis center. All the services that you would generally associate under a crisis center, all under one roof,” says Davis.
Davis says one of the most important parts of this program will be its availability around the clock.
“The thing about it is you can’t plan your psychiatric crisis or addictions crisis Monday through Friday 8-5. So, this program will offer 24-7 care 365. So if somebody is experiencing a crisis, and needs immediate access to service, they would actually walk in. We’ll also find a large number of people being transported by our local EMS or law enforcement. So rather than law enforcement or emergency departments taking on a brunt of folks experiencing psychiatric or addictions crisis, this center will service that need,” Davis explains.
Construction is already underway to re-purpose that facility, and it should be up and running by early April.