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Mental health crisis stabilization center planned for central La Crosse as $50K donation moves project forward

La Crosse Tribune - 5/24/2024

May 23—By mid-summer, the La Crosse community will have more resources available to address the growing need for mental health services in the area.

With several grants supporting the project, and a $50,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation, the new mental health crisis stabilization facility will provide those experiencing mental health crises a safe, comfortable and "homey" option.

"Today we are here to celebrate a win for the entire community. ... This is a win for everyone," said Tim Blumentritt, La Crosse social services director at Tellurian. "This is an effort by Tellurian and the state of Wisconsin to expand mental health services in our communities. We're here to be a part of the solution."

The new eight-bed facility located at 1720 Jackson St. will provide a space for those experiencing mental health crises to receive the care and supervision they need outside a hospital setting. Tellurian estimates the facility will serve up to 350 patients per year.

"Our intention is to meet their needs as soon as possible to eliminate waiting periods in hospital emergency rooms," said Blumentritt. "This is part of a model that has been proven effective across other parts of the country. Wisconsin is bringing that here so individuals, sometimes in a matter of hours, can be supported and connected to services and return to the community. That's the goal of this program."

For many experiencing mental health crises, the barriers to access can restrict people from seeking help when they need it most.

The facility offers a centralized location in the heart of La Crosse and a personalized approach, which brings individual-based compassionate and comfortable care outside a hospital or law enforcement environment, which can be daunting to those in need of care.

Removing access barriers with spaces like the new facility, can help ensure those in urgent crises can quickly access the help and resources they need.

"For someone to get mental health services, they have to be able to access those services," said Blumentritt. "I think that this program is going to offer meeting a gap in services that exists currently across the state of Wisconsin and in different parts of the country. We're honored to bring that here to La Crosse, and give people who are experiencing mental health issues a choice in their care."

Several grants have made the service possible, including the $50,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation, which has been dedicated to remodeling and furnishing the space.

"Our core purpose is to support innovative services and programs that are enhancing the quality of life for folks here in La Crosse County," said Jamie Schloegel, CEO of the La Crosse Community Foundation. "Mental health is an area of great need here in La Crosse ... we're excited to step up and fill that funding gap, to make this program and service possible for folks in La Crosse."

For Lance, someone who has battled mental health throughout his life, having access to facilities like this could make all the difference.

"I was dealing with some mental health issues. And honestly, I was suicidal at the time, I was struggling," said Lance, who declined to provide a last name. "I had a social worker that recommended Tellurian to me. They helped me through this difficult time. They didn't just throw me out and say good luck. ... They are still working with me today."

When he moved to La Crosse 25 years ago, he didn't know about any of the services and resources available to him while he struggled with his mental health crises. Now, he feels that he has services available to him, and people to care for him if he ever needs assistance.

"The point is for me to be able to succeed out in the community to the point where I don't need that service," said Lance. "It's there for people that need it, and if something were to happen, or I would need services in the future, I know I have a place here."

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