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Partnership to bring new behavioral health crisis centers to Guilford County

Partnership to bring new behavioral health crisis centers to Guilford County

Publication Date: December 19, 2018

Sandhills Center is working with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Cone Health to bring additional health services to Guilford County, specifically an enhanced level of integrated health services for people in crisis that addresses both mental and physical health. The partnership is receiving additional support from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The service expansion will include construction of two facilities in a single location.

One facility will feature a 16-bed Adult Facility-Based Crisis center, a 23-hour observation unit and outpatient services for adults, adolescents and children. The 23-hour observation unit will offer time for individuals in crisis to have their care needs thoroughly assessed. If an individual is unable to return home after that time, they may be transition to the Facility-Based Crisis center, transferred to higher level of care, or connected with a community provider to receive continued services.

The second facility will be a 16-bed Child/Adolescent Facility-Based Crisis center, a non-medical facility that will serve as an alternative to hospitalization for youth experiencing behavioral health crises.

The expanded services will provide comprehensive mental health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Facility-Based Crisis centers benefit people with urgent mental health needs. Unlike most behavioral health crisis centers, the new Guilford County facility also will provide physical health services, allowing people in crisis to avoid visits to local hospital emergency rooms to address medical needs. Guilford County, Cone Health and Sandhills Center will seek input from behavioral health stakeholders in the community as plans are finalized.

“People experiencing mental health crises will get prompt, comprehensive care,” explains Debbie Cunningham, president of Cone Health Women’s Hospital and Cone Health Behavioral Health Services. “This will have a huge impact on quality of life for people with mental illness in our community.”

The partners seek a building site of approximately five acres that is accessible to all utilities, is in close proximity to a hospital, and is served by public transportation. The design will be unique and customized to provide a comprehensive service array in an efficient, professional environment that is respectful of each individual’s dignity.

Guilford County will incur the design and construction costs of the planned Adult Facility-Based Crisis center, which is expected to be 35,000 to 40,000 square feet in size. The cost of the project is estimated to be between $15 million and $20 million, with the county seeking additional financial assistance from the State of North Carolina and other potential grantees and donors. Guilford County has partnered with Cone Health to deliver services.

Sandhills Center, the Local Management Entity-Managed Care Organization serving Guilford and eight other central North Carolina counties, will cover the estimated $8 million design and construction costs for the Child/Adolescent Facility-Based Crisis center, which is expected to be between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet in size. Sandhills Center will select a provider of services at a later date.

Sandhills Center’s Board of Directors has reserved funding to construct the facility. Funding comes from savings from managing Medicaid services under the 1915 (b)/(c) waiver. One of the benefits of Sandhills Center becoming a waiver site for managing services was that savings could be reinvested back into the local communities.

“This partnership and planned facility exemplifies that reinvestment in a visible way,” says Sandhills Center CEO Victoria Whitt., CEO for Sandhills Center. “We are excited about the work that has gone into planning these facilities and look forward to continuing the partnership to bring them to reality.”

Guilford County Commissioner At-Large Kay Cashion, who also serves as the vice chair of the Sandhills Center Board of Directors, states that Guilford County historically has been very proactive in providing high-quality mental health services.

“This collaborative effort will improve access to care in the areas of mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Cashion says. “It also will address physical health care needs for those in crisis. We are pleased to move forward with this innovative service for our citizens.”

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners will vote on the proposed behavioral health center in January 2019.