Health Care

KC mental health triage center expects to open late October

Kansas City’s new mental health triage center is being renovated and expects to open in late October.
Kansas City’s new mental health triage center is being renovated and expects to open in late October. Kansas City Star file photo

It’s taken longer than hoped, but Kansas City’s new mental health triage center is expected to open at the end of October.

Officials announced plans for the new center last fall and had hoped it would open in July at 12th Street and Prospect Avenue. But the building, owned by the Missouri Department of Mental Health and leased to the city, has needed more interior renovation than anticipated.

The City Council has just approved an additional $275,000 in municipal court funds to help replace the aging furnace and air conditioning system and to make some restrooms more accessible. The construction is slated to finish Oct. 18, according to City Architect Eric Bosch. The opening date is expected to be on or right before Oct. 31.

City Councilman Scott Wagner, who has advocated for the project, said that too often, the only choices for mental health treatment in Kansas City have been jail or the emergency room.

“We obviously think this will be a wonderful option,” Wagner said of the new assessment and triage center.

The city is contributing just under $2 million in health levy and municipal court funds for renovations to the building at 2600 E. 12th Street.

The operations will be covered by hospital and charitable funds.

The treatment center is the first of its kind in Missouri but is modeled on other successful centers across the country. It will be administered by ReDiscover.

The center came about because of negotiations with Ascension Health, a hospital company that in 2015 completed its sale of two Kansas City area hospitals. As part of those sales, Ascension agreed to set aside $20 million for charity care. The decision was made to channel $2 million annually over 10 years as partial operating funds for the new facility. Other hospital and charitable funds are also expected to contribute to the operating expenses.

The plan calls for 16 beds where people in crisis can be held for up to 23 hours to get stabilized before being referred to other locations. It will be open to law enforcement and hospital referrals only and will not accept walk-ins. The center is expected to serve about 6,000 people per year.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley