Comcare opens new crisis center

Comcare will offer mental health crisis services at its new community crisis center starting Friday.

The center, at 635 N. Main, will serve people in an immediate mental health or behavioral crisis.

It will help Comcare, the county-run mental health agency, “be more responsive to people in this community and keep them at lower levels of care, rather than more expensive and more restrictive levels of care,” said Marilyn Cook, Comcare’s executive director.

The center will offer the same mental health assessment, stabilization and referral practices in one central location, Cook said.

The community crisis center will serve patients in crisis from Sedgwick, Butler and Sumner counties, she said.

“It made good sense for us to combine our efforts,” Cook said.

It’s part of an effort to save money and stabilize more mental health patients going through crises locally instead of sending them out of the region to a state mental hospital.

A 2013 Wichita State University report said opening a community crisis center would save money for the county, local hospitals and law enforcement, Cook said.

“If we have less admissions to the state hospital, there are less transportation costs there,” she said.

Osawatomie State Hospital in Miami County, where Comcare sends involuntary patients, is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the east, near the Missouri border.

Local hospitals also should benefit from the creation of a community crisis center.

“People who are uninsured could come here and be stabilized and not go to the emergency room,” Cook said.

Comcare will eventually move its detox services to the community crisis center after it is renovated later in the year.

The center will be located in offices that were previously used for Comcare’s administrative arm.

Cook said Comcare explored moving to a different site, but renovations were too expensive.

Money for the center and the renovations comes from a $1 million grant from the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Comcare’s administration will swap places with its current crisis services and move to where they used to be located, at 934 N. Water, by July 31.

“It’s kind of like two households switching homes without either one of them looking into temporary space,” Cook said.

Reach Daniel Salazar at 316-269-6791 or dsalazar@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @imdanielsalazar.