News

Johnson County's GuideLink Center to open early 2021

Center will provide crisis care and shelter

Johnson County's GuideLink Center - depicted last year in a rendering - is under construction at 270 Southgate Ave. in s
Johnson County’s GuideLink Center — depicted last year in a rendering — is under construction at 270 Southgate Ave. in south Iowa City. The regional mental health facility is expected to open early next year. (Illustration provided by Neumann Monson Architects)

IOWA CITY — Iowa City’s new behavioral access center — called the GuideLink Center — is scheduled to open early next year.

“Construction is currently about 80 percent complete,” said Matthew Miller, project manager.

During a meeting Monday of local officials — including from Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, University Heights, Johnson County and the Iowa City Community School District — Miller said construction is anticipated to be complete Jan. 2 on the facility at 270 Southgate Ave. in south Iowa City. It is expected to open to the public a little more than a month later on Feb. 8.

“We’ll need approximately one month to get everything else to get everything prepared,” Miller said.

Once completed, the project will house sobering and crisis stabilization units, and a low-barrier homeless shelter. The shelter would not require people to be sober in order to be admitted.

The behavioral access center is part of a yearslong re-imagining of Johnson County’s response to those dealing with mental health and substance abuse crises.

Starting in May 2015, local law enforcement agencies sent officers and deputies to San Antonio, Texas, to be trained in crisis intervention — an approach that teaches participants how to recognize when someone is having a mental health issue or other crisis and how to de-escalate the situation.

Even with the training, area officials said police were limited in their options on where to take someone experiencing a crisis — either to jail or a hospital. That’s where the new GuideLink Center comes in.

Miller told The Gazette residents will be able to access the GuideLink Center in a variety of ways. Family members or friends can take someone there. Law enforcement also can take an individual there in need of services.

“Once someone arrives, they will go through our initial evaluation and intake process, then be admitted and start whatever treatment is immediately needed,” Miller said. “People are allowed to simply show up and walk in or call ahead to give staff a heads up.”

Agencies outside of law enforcement are also encouraged to refer patients to the center, Miller said. And the facility will not be limited to Johnson County.

“Entities outside Johnson County are encouraged to use the GuideLink Center as well,” Miller said.

Outside entities are supportive of the project, Miller said. For instance, Iowa County has donated $100,000 to building expenses, he said.

Linn County is opening its own access center. Miller told the local officials that Linn County intends to open its facility by mid-November.

“We can definitely learn a lot from what they do there,” he said.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.