BY SARAH STEPHENS
Last week the Elmore/Autauga News reached out to multiple agencies in an attempt to get an update on the Crisis Diversion Center set to be located in Montgomery. The facility is just one of several planned facilities to offer help for mental problems and drug addiction. The Montgomery facility will serve the needs for Autauga and Elmore counties as well as Lowndes and Montgomery.
We would like to thank Senator Clyde Chambliss for sharing this latest update with us. It represents extremely good news for those families, law enforcement and court officials that are continually dealing with the crisis of few facilities with beds available to help those in crisis.
Representatives of MAMHA recent visited with Elmore County Commissioners, expressing the very real need for more services in their coverage area.
See the latest update below. For a link to an article we ran recently concerning the state of mental health facilities in our area, see https://elmoreautauganews.com/2021/02/11/mental-health-crisis-montgomerys-planned-crisis-diversion-center-to-serve-autauga-elmore-counties/
From the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority, Inc.
It has been roughly 90 days since Governor Kay Ivey announced the awardees of funding for three crisis diversion centers. In that short time, significant progress has been made in achieving the bold goal of establishing a crisis continuum of care in the state of Alabama and realizing the vision of “zero unnecessary admits to the hospital emergency department and zero unnecessary bookings into jail.” The following is a first quarter progress report for the Montgomery Area Mental Health Authority, Inc. (MAMHA).
MAMHA is on a timeline to meet the phased targets outlined by the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Phase 1 (November 2020 – May 2021) will mark the opening of operations, including community and mobile services and crisis co-response. With the acquisition of a new facility in Phase 1, MAMHA will be concurrently opening operations and renovating the facility to meet ADMH standards. Phase 2 (May 2021 – December 2021) will focus on final facility renovations and building capacity and services initiated in Phase 1. The MAMHA Crisis Diversion Center will be open and serving consumers by May 2021.
MAMHA has worked with the other two awardees (AltaPointe and Wellstone) collaboratively to ensure project success. The three awardees hold bi-weekly roundtable meetings to share progress updates and best practices along with our implementation timelines. Further, weekly technical assistance sessions have been held with all three centers, ADMH staff, and the external consulting team to support the awardees as we encounter new or unfamiliar subject matter.
The first quarter of the project focused on acquisition of the building, further developing community involvement and collaboration, approval of new positions and salary ranges, and reorganization of the internal structure of MAMHA to support the growth of the organization. MAMHA has hired several mental health technicians, two nurses, a new PI Director (Quality Improvement), and additional support staff including an accounting clerk and office staff. The Performance Improvement Department has been redesigned to emphasize training and professional development for direct care staff. MAMHA developed a Crisis Outreach Director position to oversee the mobile crisis teams, after-hours calls, and serve as liaison to the community collaborative. MAMHA has secured a building that will be perfect for this function, located at 5915 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, near I-85. The interior currently has an open layout ensuring MAMHA can design with freedom.
The facility lies on four acres of land, with ample outdoor area for consumers to get fresh air and exercise. MAMHA anticipates the closing and due diligence of inspections to be complete within 60 days. The buildout is expected to begin in early spring with final renovations complete by early fall, when ADMH will inspect and certify. The MAMHA Crisis Diversion Center is planned to be completely renovated and fully operational by December 2021; MAMHA will be simultaneously opening observation beds from May 2021 through the renovation timeframe.
The program will consist of a ten-bed temporary observation unit and a 16-bed, seven-day extended observation unit. Referrals may come from a myriad of sources: courts, law enforcement, hospitals, community agencies, and self-referrals/walk-ins. MAMHA is partnering with East Alabama Mental Health Center (serving Chambers, Lee, Russell, and Tallapoosa counties) and East Central Mental Health Center (serving Bullock, Macon, and Pike counties), where they will have additional mobile crisis teams and transportation units through a sub-contract with MAMHA (serving Montgomery, Elmore, Autauga, and Lowndes counties).
The second quarter will see the completion of design plans, closing of the building, and beginning of construction.
MAMHA will continue hiring staff for the center, the crisis teams, and for the infrastructure of MAMHA. The second quarter will also see the ongoing update and development of Policies and Procedures for the new programs, as well as updates to current policy.
Any questions may be directed to Donna Leslie, Executive Director for MAMHA, at (334) 279-7830 ext. 7000, or firstname.lastname@example.org.