Thursday, June 26, 2014

Idaho Falls chosen for mental health crisis center

Idaho Falls has been chosen as the site for the state’s first mental and behavioral health crisis center, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced today.

A press release from the department said Idaho Falls was chosen over Boise and Coeur d’Alene because of its outstanding community and legislative support.

Crisis centers are designed to treat at-risk patients and lower psychiatric hospitalizations, keeping the often uninsured or under-insured mentally ill out of jail or the emergency room.

“This crisis center – and others we hope to develop – will be modeled on the best practices of other states where such plans have been successful,” said Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter, who made an announcement this morning at Idaho Falls Regional Airport. “We’re hoping for similarly encouraging outcomes here, with communities joining in these investments as they see declining use of local emergency rooms, hospital beds and jail cells.”

Data gathered from the center will be used to evaluate the need and resources necessary to create centers in the other two cities, should the Legislature fund them.

During the 2014 session, the Legislature set aside $1.52 million in annual funds and $600,000 in one-time federal money for one center. The department originally requested $4.56 million for all three proposed centers.

State officials said Twin Falls was Idaho’s next-highest priority area to fund the facility. The Division 5 Behavioral Health Board in Twin Falls is pursuing the idea of creating such a center independent of state funding because of the local need.

The board is also looking to fix the problems that led to Boise officials overlooking the area when considering a crisis center.

“One of the things we were missing from the three other areas primarily was that display of readiness,” Scott Rasmussen, Region 5 program manager for the Behavioral Health Division, told the Twin Falls Times-News last week.

For sound clips from the airport this morning, follow this link to East Idaho News.