Idaho’s second mental health crisis center is now open. The Northern Idaho Crisis Center is located in an existing building on the Kootenai Health campus. Renovations on the space were completed earlier this week. Local agencies celebrated the center’s grand opening on Tuesday, December 8.
Former FBI agent Don Robinson is the crisis and intervention services manager.
“Don Robinson has a long history of crisis intervention and management that make him uniquely skilled at working with the population the crisis center will serve,” said Claudia Miewald, Kootenai Health’s director of behavioral health services. “From 2005 to 2012 he worked as the supervisory special agent of the Coeur d’Alene resident agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. We are very fortunate to have our first staff member of the crisis center be such a well-qualified individual.”
The Northern Idaho Crisis Center is the second crisis center funded through the Idaho State Legislature. A one-time $200,000 allocation of state funds will be used to open the center. This will not fully cover all the needed renovations in the space so organizers are working with others in the community to donate services, labor and funding to make up the deficit.
“The crisis center is a much-needed support service in our community,” said Caryl Johnston, director of the Northwest Hospital Alliance. “The state has provided some funding which will be used for getting the physical facility ready, but there are additional needs as we get ready to open. There are many ways the community can help us get everything ready. I want to invite local individuals, families, businesses, clubs, churches or groups to join with us in meeting those needs.”
The center serves men and women from Idaho’s 10 northern counties, ages 18 and older who need help with mental health or substance abuse issues. Other crisis centers have found that although many referrals come from law enforcement, most people using the center come by themselves or are brought to the center by a friend or family member.
Patients may receive care at the center for up to 24 hours. The crisis center’s purpose is to assess patients and connect them to resources that best fit their needs. Staff will be trained to assess patients’ needs and refer them to the appropriate resources in their community. If additional care is needed, whether it is inpatient care such as being admitted to the hospital, or outpatient care like a counseling service, patients will receive an appropriate referral before they leave the center.
Many community organizations worked together to make the crisis center a possibility, but the newly-formed Idaho Health Partners, comprised of Kootenai Health, Panhandle Health District and Heritage Health, managed much of the initial planning and development. Kootenai Health is the contracting organization with the state. Local law enforcement, the local behavioral health community and those offering assistance to people in crisis will be other active participants as the center prepares to open. The success of the center will depend heavily on the support and involvement of many community resources.
To learn more about the ways you can help or make a donation for the Crisis Center, please call Caryl Johnston at (208) 625-4138.