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Pawnee's crisis stabilization center benefits community with necessary services

The Manhattan Mercury - 3/29/2020

Mar. 29--The Pawnee Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Center has changed the landscape for emergency rooms, law enforcement and those who need help with its 24-hour access for 10 counties it serves since its fall opening.

"And whereas before, if you needed something, you could really only go to an office during business hours," said Bruce Johnson, crisis stabilization services manager. "And so that led to everybody needing to go to the emergency rooms. So now, we've taken the heat off the hospitals and also for EMS too."

The crisis stabilization center, which is at 1558 Hayes Drive in Manhattan, houses 11 beds for non-violent adults who are seeking assistance with crises or mental health problems. The center keeps an average daily census of about nine to 10 patients. The average stay of a patient is four to five days, Johnson said.

"It's good," Johnson said. "... We get to the point where we will, if we are near capacity or something, you know we'll be careful about triaging people to make sure they get to the right level of care and everything. And we will move people to different places and such."

Pawnee serves people in 10 Kansas counties, including Riley, Pottawatomie, Geary, Jewell, Mitchell, Republic, Cloud, Washington, Marshall and Clay.

A dedicated team of case managers, clinicians and mental health technicians, among others, assists patients every day.

"The staff we have here is really, really awesome," Johnson said. "They started from day one."

Johnson said employees pitch in with every task at work, which is helpful in keeping the center running smoothly.

"Everybody's doing everything," Johnson said. "Somebody needs help in the bathroom or whatever it is they need, everybody's on board to do that stuff. So that's been really nice."

"We are the cooks, the plumbers, the housekeepers, the laundry service, the transportation drivers," Johnson continued.

Deanna Hall, marketing and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) manager for Pawnee, said Johnson has been working diligently since the center opened.

"I mean Bruce has been here day and night with the whole thing," she said. "But I think from our perspective, we didn't have like a restaurant soft open."

In all his years of working in mental health, Johnson said the team at the crisis stabilization center is one of the best he's ever worked with.

"You couldn't ask for a better group of people," he said. "That's a make it or break sort of thing."

The center is dependent on funding from the state every year, Johnson said. The center has a matching grant from the Goldstein Foundation that assisted the center in getting up and running.

"That's been extremely helpful in the initial start-up and construction," Johnson said.

At the crisis stabilization center, Johnson and Hall said the relationship between the provider and patient is key to helping patients get the help they need.

"It's building trust and rapport," Johnson said.

Johnson said there are possibilities down the road for the center to expand the number of beds it provides.

"It's a chain of events that needs to happen to make that occur," Johnson said.

Another long-term goal is to consolidate all therapy services in one large facility with crisis stabilization services in Manhattan.

"I think that's the grand plan," Johnson said.

"It's a need," Hall added.


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