Government

Johnson County continues with crisis intervention center efforts

County hires project manager, changes working title of center

IOWA CITY — Johnson County officials are progressing with their plans to create a crisis intervention center to help address mental health issues.

The Board of Supervisors heard a presentation Wednesday updating progress on the center. Recently, the county hired a project manager, Matt Miller, and began using a different working title for the facility, Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center.

Linn County is working toward its own crisis intervention center. And a law passed earlier this year by the Iowa Legislature to improve mental health treatment throughout the state called for the creation of six “access centers” that appear to be somewhat similar, though details have yet to be worked out.

“The way they outlined access centers ... they were defining it in a much different way, so we were concerned that what we were calling an access center wasn’t what the state was and that we probably needed a different name,” said Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass, who serves on the steering and executive committee for the project. “We fully acknowledge this could change again once we actually have a facility.“

House File 2456, signed into law this year, calls for six centers to be constructed around the state in locations not yet determined. The facilities would provide short-term assistance to Iowans in crisis situations.

Johnson County’s center has been in the planning stages for years and likely would provide additional services like sobering units and a low-barrier shelter.

Green-Douglass said she likes the working title because she believed if someone was in need of services available at the center, he or she might search similar online terms to it.

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The next step for the project will be to obtain land. Discussion of a property purchase typically takes place in closed sessions among the supervisors and staff.

Miller, who began his work about a month ago, said a property is expected to be chosen “soon.”

“There’s been a lot of planning going on so now I think we’re getting close to a point where we can start doing some things,” said Miller, who has about a decade of project management experience, particularly in the health care field. “There’s definitely been some movement in finding a location for this.”

Mike Hensch, the board’s executive director, said any finalization and execution of the purchase agreement would have to be done in an open session.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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