To join this meeting, please go to the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Cafeteria at 9:30 am on Friday, February 24th. We will meet with Russ Johnson (and other staff) at 10:30 in the auditorium on the lower level.
The Lawrence Memorial Hospital has recently stated publicly that it has a strategic interest in cooperating to address the "behavioral health needs" of the region. More specifically, Russ Johnson has indicated creating/supporting Crisis Services. He recently wrote, "We are looking at this as an extension of our existing services which have been inadequate over the last year especially. As we were already considering improvements to our services this was a natural consideration of that work. Sounds like a productive dialog can be had. I will ask Karen and Sarah to join us if they are able." This is great news as the hospital could play a major role in the creation of a Crisis Center, provided one is built. They could also potentially save significant money if the ER was no longer the primary destination for people in crisis seeking mental health treatment.
Our biggest worry is when such a facility would be open for service. We have been told that there would be a delay of three years from the time voters approve of funding to the opening of such a facility, if county funds are used to finance new construction. This is an unacceptable timetable given that people seeking in-patient mental health services are presently waiting up to 4 days in the Emergency Room. Our research shows that a viable alternative would be to use a renovated vacant building that can be ready to open within 90 days of signing the lease at a fraction of the costs of new construction.
We have been researching a number of different approaches neighboring communities have taken in creating a Crisis Center, and have recently learned that certain parties are discussing plans at this time. This conversation with Russ Johnson, the Director of LMH, is scheduled with an eye toward understanding the wheels that appear to be in motion to create such a facility. Most importantly, the timetable, costs and funding sources.