Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has announced that a regional behavioral health crisis center will be in Idaho Falls. Otter made the announcement at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport on Thursday morning.
"Behavioral health should be all of our concerns because Idaho is a family," said Otter. "It will happen here as quick as it could possibly happen anywhere, the need for today is obvious."
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the center will be a place where patients may be able to access services they need, get stabilized and leave with a treatment plan.
"Our plan is for the state to provide start-up funding and then to build community partnerships for long-term sustainability," Otter said. "This crisis center - and others we hope to develop - will be modeled on the best practices of other states where such plans have been successful. We're hoping for similarly encouraging outcomes here, with communities joining in these investments as they see declining use of local emergency rooms, hospital beds and jail cells."
Licensed clinical social worker David Spencer works for the Pearl Health Clinic in the Greater Idaho Falls area and said it's about time for the government to take mental and behavioral illness seriously.
"People call in and say, 'Dave, I'm in a crisis. I'm really scared, I don't know where to go, I don't know what to do.' Basically the only option they've had is to go to the emergency room," said Spencer. "When someone is viewed as a danger to themselves or somebody else, those are things that need to be addressed immediately."
A committee of professionals considered locating the facility in three communities; Idaho Falls, Boise and Coeur d'Alene. According to the department, Idaho Falls was selected based on outstanding community and legislative support from the Idaho Falls area and surrounding eastern Idaho community.
The Idaho legislature appropriated $1.52 million in ongoing general funds and $600,000 in one-time federal money for the center this year.
Once established, the center will operate around the clock, every day and be available to provide evaluation, intervention and referral for people experiencing a crisis because of serious mental illness or substance abuse.