Triage center moves forward

Judge Joseph Locascio

Judge Joseph Locascio

Too often the same people who suffer from substance abuse, mental illness or both recycle through emergency rooms, jails and the streets.

The city council finance committee today advanced measures to create another option: a mental health assessment and triage center.

The full city council is expected to approve the public private partnership Thursday and the center is scheduled to open in July at 2600 E. 12th St.

The city is to provide $2.5 million for renovation to a state-owned building there. Funds to operate the center come largely from a state settlement with Ascension Health related to the sale of two of its hospitals.

Kansas City area hospitals, which lose money caring for such uninsured patients, are also contributing $1 million a year.

Its total operating budget will be $3 million a year for 10 years.

Kansas City Municipal Judge Joseph Locascio, who has worked toward such a center for years, said it will literally save people from dying on the streets.

“A lot of these folks, their lives are completely out of control,” he said. Many are homeless, and “it’s not like the police see them one time, they see them hundreds of times.”

Police will give them the option of going to jail or the center, Locascio said, and city courts can also “use a little more persuasion.”

Meanwhile, treatment providers there are to get them into programs and follow up on their care.

“If we don’t get these folks timely – that means immediate follow up services – we will not succeed,” the judge said.

The hope is that police will take a third of those who constantly need services to the center, officials said, and that a third more will go there on their own.

One Comment

  1. Pam Gilford says:

    These programs ultimately save taxpayers money too.

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