Dane County Jail

A new psychiatric hospital and crisis assessment center planned for the Madison area could reduce the number of people with mental health crises who land in the Dane County Jail, where a sheriff's deputy checks on inmates sick from drug withdrawal and those who are considered suicide risks.

AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL ARCHIVES

Strategic Behavioral Health, based in Memphis, Tennessee, plans to build a psychiatric hospital in the Madison area, including a crisis assessment center open around the clock, a company official said Thursday.

The facility, expected to have at least 72 beds and cost $15 million to $20 million, will be in Madison or Middleton and offer inpatient and outpatient services, said Mike Garone, director of development.

The company has 10 psychiatric hospitals in six states, including one that opened in Green Bay early this year.

In the Madison area, the new facility could open by late summer 2019, said Lindsay Wallace, executive director of NAMI Dane County, who was briefed on the plan.

The hospital and crisis center could reduce the number of people with mental health crises who end up in the Dane County Jail, Wallace said.

It could also alleviate the need for area law enforcement agencies to transfer mental health patients who are considered violent to Winnebago Mental Health Institute, Wallace said.

“It’s a huge deal,” she said. “The key feature we like … is the crisis assessment center.”

Dane County Sup. Paul Rusk, chairman of the County Board’s public protection and judiciary committee, said the psychiatric hospital could meet the county’s need for inpatient mental health treatment better than SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, UnityPoint Health-Meriter and UW Hospital do now.

Wallace and Rusk said mental health and law enforcement officials in Green Bay have said good things about Strategic Behavioral Health’s facility there.

Mental health advocates have sought a “crisis restoration center” in Dane County where people with mental health crises could go at any time of day, or police could bring them, and be connected to appropriate services.

Next year’s county budget includes at least $140,000 for a study to assess existing mental health services and whether such a center is needed.

Strategic Behavioral Health’s planned crisis assessment center is similar, Wallace and Rusk said. But Rusk said the study is still needed because other improvements are needed in mental health.

The new psychiatric hospital is expected to include a separate area for children and adolescents, and take patients from other counties, Wallace said.

Meriter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital on Madison’s Southwest Side has 20 beds.

Garone said he couldn’t provide details on specific services, or the location of the facility, because negotiations are ongoing. He said some of the company’s facilities offer residential care, and some treat chemical dependency.

Journey Mental Health Center and Tellurian are the main safety net providers of mental health and addiction services in the county.

Strategic Behavioral Health, founded in 2006, has facilities in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas, in addition to the one in Green Bay.

The new hospital and crisis center could reduce the number of people with mental health crises who end up in the Dane County Jail, said Lindsay Wallace, director of NAMI Dane County. It could also mean fewer transfers of mental health patients to Winnebago Mental Health Institute, she said.