Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Mental health crisis facility to be built in Polson

POLSON — Earlier in November, Western Montana Mental Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the CSKT and Lake County hosted two public meeting to outline plans and take comments related to a mental health crisis facility to be built in Polson. There was a small turnout at each meeting, and the Commissioners feel that a newspaper column devoted to the crisis center plans is appropriate.

Lake County, with help and advice from WMMH, applied for a grant in April from the state of Montana to plan the facility. A $125,000 grant was awarded to the county in June that will pay for “the planning, development and design of Lake House, a community based, emergency detention and voluntary crisis stabilization facility.” St. Joseph’s Hospital donated land for the facility which will be built just north of the present hospital parking lot. Locating the center near a hospital was considered to be an important objective to be met for the center and the donation of land by the hospital was an important piece of the overall project. Advertisements for bids for engineering and planning have been published.

The four groups mentioned above have recognized the need for a 24/7 care facility for someone experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis in Lake County for several years. That need is now going to be met. At the present time, if someone needs a secure bed to guarantee their safety, a 170 mile drive in handcuffs and shackles for admission to Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs is often the only option. Lake County’s utilization of Warm Springs ranks amongst the highest of all counties in western Montana. The ability to keep people who are in desperate need of psychiatric care in their community while receiving treatment is a much better alternative than sending those people to a distant treatment center. Data gathered from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department indicated that presently about 300 individuals a year are detained by the county pending mental health assessment. Tribal health and law enforcement officials would also be able use the services of such a center. Currently, the design of the center will include two or three beds that will be continuously monitored for patients that are high risk of injuring themselves, and three to five beds for those patients that just need time to get their mental health emergency stabilized. Patients will be expected to exit the crisis center in five to seven days.

Once an architect design for the facility is approved, it is hoped that construction can begin in the spring of 2014, and completion of the project should occur by spring of 2015.

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