You are here

Ascension partners with Kansas City to support behavioral health center

Thanks to financial support from Ascension, residents of Kansas City, Mo., soon will have greater access to behavioral health services.

Ascension is partnering with the city to help fund a new mental-health assessment and triage center being developed in downtown Kansas City. Ascension will contribute $20 million over 10 years to the effort, continuing the national health ministry’s more than 100-year legacy of serving the Kansas City community.

“We are pleased to be a partner in the development of the Assessment and Triage Center to improve behavioral health capabilities for the Kansas City community,” said Nick Ragone, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, Ascension. “This effort complements Ascension’s goals of developing a national behavioral health strategy focused on integrating behavioral health initiatives into population health.

“We consider it a privilege to continue living our Mission and our commitment to providing holistic care that treats the whole person – body, mind and spirit – through our support of improved behavioral health capabilities in the Kansas City community.”

The decision to fund the project stems from the sale earlier this year of the majority of the facilities of Carondelet Health in Kansas City to Prime Healthcare Services, Inc. Ascension continues to serve the region through three long-term care locations that are part of Ascension Health Senior Care – Carondelet Manor, Villa Saint Joseph and St. Mary’s Manor – and Seton Center, a social services agency serving area residents who are struggling the most.

The proposed center is intended to offer triage, stabilization and referral services for individuals who are experiencing a psychiatric or substance-abuse-induced crisis. It is the product of more than two years of collaboration by representatives of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the Kansas City Municipal Court, the City of Kansas City, the Missouri Hospital Association, and other community leaders.

“The shortage of quality mental-health care services in Kansas City, especially for the indigent and homeless population, is nothing short of catastrophic,” Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said. “The assessment and triage center will provide essential services to people who are too often left behind. I appreciate the hard work of the many community leaders, both in the public and private sectors, who put this project together, and I commend Ascension Health and its CEO, Anthony Tersigni, for its agreement to keep resources developed over decades in Kansas City to serve area residents in need.”

The center hopes to alleviate the disproportionate burden that a small population of individuals suffering from mental-health or substance-abuse issues places on local police, courts, ambulance and emergency department services by providing targeted, specialized services to those in need. Those services will include a streamlined admissions process, up to 96 hours of inpatient stabilization services with access to necessary psychiatric medicine, referral to appropriate community resources, and meaningful follow-up.

The facility will be located at 2600 E. 12th St. at Prospect Avenue in a building already owned by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The city of Kansas City has agreed to assume the cost of renovating the building for the project’s use. The location was chosen in part due to its easy accessibility for law-enforcement and emergency-medical personnel.

Ascension’s annual donation of $2 million will represent a substantial portion of the center’s expected budget for the next decade, but the project’s leaders have obtained and continue to solicit additional contributions from other sources to fully fund the center. Project leaders hope to complete their work over the next 12 months and open the center by September 1, 2016.

“This project will return an empty state facility on Prospect to productive use in a way that also will help us to take better care of citizens who need these special services,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said. “Ascension Health, Attorney General Koster, Judge Locascio and Mayor Pro Tem Wagner and other partners have done a great job working together to pull this together.”

“There is incredible need in the Kansas City metropolitan area for additional resources for the initial assessment and triage of individuals with serious behavioral health and substance abuse issues,” said Peggy Schmidt, CEO of North Kansas City Hospital and district president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Health Care Council. “The hospital community appreciates the leadership, collaboration and dedication of all those involved in the establishment of a Kansas City Area Adult Behavioral Health Assessment and Triage Center. The significant financial support from the Ascension Health System will play an important role in enabling this critical service to become a reality.”

About Ascension Via Christi