Winter winds and frigid temperatures showed up just in time for the grand opening of Osceola and Clarke County’s newest mental health and medical support access center. That didn’t keep Governor Kim Reynolds, leadership from the state, city, and county, as well as dozens of community members from braving the end-of-the-year chill to come together to celebrate and tour the new Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa (CHCSI) facility.
The morning event started off with a warm welcome by Kevin Comer, Director of Crisis Services for CHCSI, jokingly stating to the standing-room only crowd that, even with the new 7,400 square foot facility, he’d hoped for “a better turnout.” Shoulder-to-shoulder, the crowd took in his excitement for the new facility and his tremendous appreciation for the work put into making the access center a reality for the community.
A direct result from 2018’s Iowa House Bill 2456, signed by Governor Reynolds, the access center is the first of six to be established in Iowa with the intent of addressing behavioral health shortages throughout the state. The concept of access centers has been studied in Iowa over recent years and is considered a best practice for persons with acute behavioral health issues like suicidal thoughts, drug and substance abuse, or other behavioral issues.
Governor Reynolds addressed the crowd emphasizing how the day’s event was so much more than a ribbon cutting.
“We’re slicing through the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and we’re paving a path for Iowans and our community,” said Reynolds. “This facility will be a source of healing and strength as well as a model for other regional centers throughout the state.”
With assessment and evaluation, 23 hour observation, 7 beds for subacute cases, 5 beds for crisis stabilization and residential services as well as a sobering room, peer support counseling, telehealth access and more, Osceola’s CHCSI facility will provide much-needed behavioral health support and services to the community while alleviating emergency room and police commitment to such cases.
“The Clarke County Development Group is particularly pleased to see this facility opening,” said Bill Trickey, Executive Director of the CCDC. “We made addressing the need for mental health services a priority at our annual planning session two years ago, and this is a tremendous benefit for the entire community.”
About the Access Center:
Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa’s Access Center in Osceola will serve individuals in mental health crisis in south central Iowa, particularly in rural areas. Access centers provide assessment and stabilization for individuals who may have suicidal thoughts but do not need hospitalization. Access centers provide a safe, short-term place to stay while connecting people to existing services close to home. Access centers provide people the right level of care for their needs in a timely manner, while often maximizing local resources through diversions from unnecessary time spent in local emergency rooms and law centers.