KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- Wednesday marks a new beginning for the old EPA building in Kansas City, Kansas.
KU Health Systems renovated the empty building into a behavioral and mental health center.
The project took just over a year to complete after purchasing the building last march. Directors say they knew there was a lot of potential for the Strawberry Hill location built in 1999. Engineers also kept some of the original design.
Everything from the green spaces to the door hinges are designed to be “behavioral health safe,” where no one can hurt themselves.
There are 47 private rooms opening Wednesday.
The average stay is about five days. In that time, patients can meet with physicians and work with groups, music and art therapies.
Lauren Lucht, the executive director behavioral and mental health, says the new space allows staff to expand the programming and make the treatment more personalized.
“One of the things I’m most proud of with this building is it helps erase some of the stigma associated with reaching out for mental health care we all have someone in our lives or know someone a friend or a family member who struggles with some type of mental illness and this is a space for all types of people will be able to come to receive care," she said.
Lucht says they anticipate patients coming from both sides of the state line, and eventually outside of the metro.
The building features a judiciary suite to be used for commitment hearings. The hearings are civil, not criminal, when a doctor believe a person needs more treatment than they would voluntarily agree to.
Wyandotte County Judge Kate Lynch said having the legal space in the treatment center will reduce trauma for patients. In most cases, law enforcement would take the patient to a courtroom in handcuffs for a hearing.
Lynch said healing tends to happen faster when people don’t feel like criminals.