One-stop center helps Sedgwick County residents in crisis

Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh (May 6, 2015)
Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh (May 6, 2015) File photo

James Chung’s recent report on the status of our community has helped the Wichita area focus on four key sectors – business, human capital, entrepreneurship and perception – in order to make our region a place of choice for people to live, work and play.

Since the release of the report, our community has taken great strides to make changes to ensure the success and vitality of the region. Sedgwick County, too, has had several accomplishments recently that benefit the community, including COMCARE’s Community Crisis Center, which opened last fall. 

COMCARE and its community partners began planning for a one-stop crisis center in 2010. The Community Crisis Center was finally created in 2015 to provide rapid stabilization to avoid emergency room care, local and state hospital admissions and jail booking whenever possible. A $1 million grant from the state enabled the crisis center to add 23-hour observation recliners, sobering services, detox services, peer support services and one additional respite bed at the Wichita Children’s Home.

The initial vision of the Community Crisis Center was to create a single location of integrated services for individuals in crisis. The center was designed to provide better coordination among providers, to reduce the number of individuals going to jail and hospitals due to their behavioral health conditions and designed to improve the care provided to those in need of our help.

We know that many individuals in our community continually struggle with symptoms of mental illness. And it’s clear that many individuals in this community are experiencing life- changing situations due to use and overuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances. Since the center is open and available to clients 24/7, our staff is able to meet and assist clients when they need it most. 

A study completed by Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs last September estimated that the services provided by the Community Crisis Center saved this community and the Osawatomie State Hospital $8.1 million. This is nearly double the savings anticipated before the Community Crisis Center was implemented. In addition to cost savings, the center has strengthened the relationship between COMCARE and local law enforcement.

This was achieved with excellent collaboration and cooperation from the Substance Abuse Center of Kansas staff, who are located in this building along with the mental health crisis services. The Community Crisis Center has accomplished all this and more, and we’re proud to share the program with our community.

Sedgwick County is committed to our region to have a safe and secure community, deliver quality human services and cultural experiences, focus on communication and engagement and run an efficient government organization. As chairman of the Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners, I look forward to continued collaboration with our partners to improve our community.

Dave Unruh is chairman of the Sedgwick County Commission.