Linn County Psychological Well being Entry Middle goals to open in February

CEDAR RAPIDS – Linn County’s new Mental Health Access Center is scheduled to be fully operational in early February.

The opening was originally scheduled for early this year, but the renovation of the center at 501 13th St. NW was delayed by the August 10 pandemic and dercho.

The building previously housed Linn County Public Health, which moved to the new Harris Building on 10th Avenue and Seventh Street SE.

Erin Foster, the access center director, said contractors completed construction at the center the week before Christmas.

“Now there are other companies coming in to test fire alarms and find out if it’s safe,” said Foster. “Once this is done we can be temporarily occupied and that could be next week.”

The center can move health care providers in with a temporary residence permit.

The center will work with law enforcement agencies, schools and hospitals to create a place 24 hours a day, seven days a week where people in crisis can help as an alternative to prison cells or hospital rooms.

Foundation 2, Abbe Center, and Penn Center will provide mental health services to the Linn County Center.

How it is funded

The counties in each of Iowa’s 14 mental health regions levy property taxes to support mental health, disability services, and regional centers. The East Central region includes counties of Linn, Johnson, Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, and Jones.

The East Central Regional Board approved the opening of access centers in Linn and Johnson counties in January and increased the regional property tax for fiscal 2021 by 3 cents to 34 cents per $ 1,000 property value.

The increase will provide US $ 1.3 million to cover operating costs for the centers in the first year. The fee is divided between the nine districts according to the number of inhabitants.

Linn County provided $ 3.5 million in seed capital for the center.

Foster said that getting funding and finding staff is always a problem in the behavioral health world.

“It’s getting harder and harder to get good people to stay in an organization,” said Foster. “Every time you talk about mental health, it gets funded. It’s not a money making business. “

“Need is there”

Starting a new program like the Access Center, Foster added, means starting with zero data.

“You can look at law enforcement data and other data, but it’s a new program and has never been done before,” Foster said. “We know the need is there, however, and there is a strong argument that we will be busy and will be full most of the time.”

Foster said once the center can quantify the diversion of clients out of prisons and emergency rooms, a strong case for more funding at the local, regional and state levels can be made.

“I think access centers will be a key element in connecting people not only to mental health services, but also to other services that can have an impact on people’s mental health as well.”

Foster said a virtual open house will be held before the center opens once that date is set.

Notes: (319) 398-8255; [email protected]

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