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County Moving Forward with Crisis Assessment Center

by and on August 02, 2019 1:00 PM

Centre County is a step closer to having another place for people to turn to in case of a mental health crisis as the county commissioners agreed to add a contract with Center for Community Resources to the Aug. 13 board meeting consent agenda for such a program.

The contract for $694,981 covers the cost of setting up and running the Crisis Assessment Services program during this fiscal year, including the money needed to find a location, said county Director of Mental Health/ Intellectual Disability/Early Intervention Natalie Corman.

Commissioners approved entering contract negotiations for the center in June.

Corman said CCR has narrowed down the location of the center to two different potential sites that are very close to one another. One of the sites is a rental property and the other is for sale. She said they may choose the rental property at first so they can get the program up and running and then move when they are ready to purchase a location. Corman said the sites are in a location that is easily accessible to the largest portion of the Centre County population in the State College-Bellefonte corridor.

The county received three bids for the service. When the plan for the center was first conceived, the county had hoped to include a residential aspect to the program to provide short-term shelter for people in crisis, but received no bids from providers for that service.

The county dropped the residential aspect of the program and is now planning to provide a center for people in mental health crisis to turn to when they need help finding resources to get them through their issue. The facility is proposed to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CCR has a history of providing this service in other counties around the state.

People in crisis can come to the program from many different avenues, but always on their own free will, said Corman, when the program was discussed at the June 25 board meeting.

“We really look at this as a number of different entry points, kind of a no-wrong-door opportunity," Corman said. So law enforcement, when they are engaging with an individual, can have them walk in the door, the individual themselves, a provider, the schools, if they think they have someone who needs assessed, all those people can walk someone in. They have several assessment tools they discussed on what they will do.

"A lot of it is really being able to provide that immediate opportunity to discuss what their crisis is and figure out what exactly we can provide for them for immediate resources. Whether that is hospitalization if they want it, whether that is just having someone to talk to face-to-face, whether that is being linked to services for the first time, it is a variety of different options. It is all voluntary. It is not hospitalization. It is not a residential program as we had previously put out there. It is really the opportunity to go there and get the immediate assistance for a non-medical need. It doesn’t take away from what the ER does. But it addresses that crisis and gets them to the next opportunity.”


This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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