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Lawrence celebrates completion of innovative behavioral health campus

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 8:11 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) - A crowd of more than 100 people stood outside the Treatment and Recovery Center in Lawrence Thursday evening to celebrate the completion of the $10-million, publicly-funded design and construction project.

The new facility is the only one of its kind in Kansas, serving as an alternative to hospital care for those in crisis. The 20,000-square-foot building sits on a larger behavioral health campus that already includes long-term and transitional housing for people facing mental health and substance use challenges.

It was funded in part by a quarter-cent county sales tax approved by voters in 2018 to improve behavioral health services.

The Treatment and Recovery Center is for behavioral health emergencies. Inpatient stays are limited to 72 hours. The décor is modern while still in keeping with the safety precautions required in a mental health center. Chairs have to weigh enough to avoid being thrown. Countertops have to be deep enough to not be jumped over. All those elements are things only a trained eye can spot. Natural light filters through most spaces from windows high up on the walls. A gated courtyard is landscaped with calming Japanese Maple trees.

“We’re prepared to handle any level of psychiatric emergency,” explained Dr. George Thompson, M.D.. He’s the executive director and medical director of the Treatment and Recovery Center. “So, any level of agitation or dangerousness to self or others. Where, in the past, people in those kinds of situations would have been taken to the jail or to the emergency room,”

“We’re prepared to handle those kinds of emergencies here in a way that understands their psychiatric crisis or their substance use crisis and can preserve their dignity and get them the help they need,” Dr. Thompson said.

The center is owned by the county and managed by a nonprofit partnership between LMH Health and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

The center is not open to patients yet. Thursday’s ribbon cutting celebrated completion of construction. A specific opening date, sometime this summer, has not been announced yet.