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Pawnee Mental Health celebrates crisis stabilization center's completion

The Manhattan Mercury - 10/20/2019

Oct. 20--For Wayne Sloan, the creation of Pawnee Mental Health Service's new crisis stabilization center means a lot to him and his family.

Sloan's son, Alex, died 11 years ago at the age of 32; Alex, Sloan said, committed suicide.

"It's amazing the hopelessness that people find themselves in, whether it be a family member, a friend or a co-worker, and having the ability -- or not having the ability -- for some place to go when you have somebody in need," said Sloan, CEO of BHS Construction. "And this is a very important facility, and we want to thank you on behalf of our family."

Sloan, whose company completed the project, was among Manhattan city commissioners, state legislators and community members celebrating the facility's completion Friday.

Pawnee staff and others cut the red ribbon to symbolize the opening of the center at at 1558 Hayes Drive.

The center officially opens its doors Nov. 4, but staff begins training Monday.

The center will assist non-violent adults who come to the facility on their own will. People suffering from mental health problems can opt to visit the center, which will be open 24 hours a day, instead of going to a hospital or emergency room.

"There's so many people that need to have crisis services," Sloan said. "And as I stated in my comments before, my son passed away from suicide, and at that point in time, we had no place to turn. We knew we had an issue, and we had no place to go. And so my wife and I are just thrilled at the opportunity to have this available."

Laura Howard, secretary for the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, called the center's opening a "new day in mental health."

"This is really positive for individuals and families that live in this catchment area," Howard said.

State Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, expressed that this is a better alternative, so people don't have to drive to Osawatomie State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital 130 miles southeast of Manhattan, for help.

"People shouldn't have to be in a car to go from Manhattan to Osawatomie when they're so sick," Carlin said.

Pawnee serves people in 10 surrounding counties, including Riley, Pottawatomie, Geary, Jewell, Mitchell, Republic, Cloud, Washington, Marshall and Clay.

Bruce Johnson, crisis stabilization manager, said Pawnee is thrilled to open up the facility.

"We're really so excited to be able to bring this out to the community and the service area, and to be able to help those people get the right care, the right place, the right time, that they need," Johnson said. "We know that makes a huge difference."

The project started when several community members got together to address the need for mental health services, said Robbin Cole, executive director of Pawnee Mental Health Services.

Nineteen months ago, Pawnee sent a grant proposal to Timothy Keck, then-secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

Four months later, the facility signed a contract and received $725,000 in start-up funds, Cole said.

"I am not being humble, I am simply stating the facts when I say there is simply no way Pawnee Mental Health could have done that without that start-up funds," Cole said. "Those start-up funds were absolutely essential to this project getting off of the ground."

Construction of phase one began in February 2018 and construction of phase two began April 18 of this year, Cole said.

Cole said the state of Kansas provided $700,000 to help the crisis center in its first year of operation.

"And again, this is yet another statement of the state's commitment to this project," Cole said.

Cole said crisis stabilization centers in the state will soon get revenue from "lottery vending machine dollars."

"Those dollars haven't started flowing yet," she said.

In addition, the Goldstein Foundation issued a $200,000 grant to the center. Sloan and his wife, Cindy, also donated $25,000. Pawnee is close to hitting another $25,000, receiving $20,164.05 in contributions as well, Cole said.

Cole said Architect One completed the design plans, and BHS Construction "worked tirelessly" over the last few months.

"We're so grateful to them for the work that they did in helping bringing us to fruition," Cole said.

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(c)2019 The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.

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