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Linn County Mental Health Access Center to offer walk-in hours Monday

Gazette - 4/22/2021

Apr. 22—CEDAR RAPIDS — The Linn County Mental Health Access Center will begin offering walk-in hours next week.

As of Monday, individuals 18 and over who are experiencing a mental health or substance-use issue will be able to walk in at the access center, 501 13th St. NW., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In the future, the center will offer walk-in access 24/7 but for now is "building capacity" before doing that, according to a news release.

One of the key factors behind creation of the access center in Linn County — and the new one in Johnson County — was to provide police a place to take people who are in crisis other than to jail or to a hospital emergency room.

Since the center receives funding from the East Central Mental Health Region, it is open to individuals from nine counties — Benton, Bremer, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Johnson, Jones and Linn.

The center — under the management of Linn County Community Services, a department within Linn County government — offers a host of services designed to assist people who are in crisis.

Services include crisis triage and counseling through Foundation 2, crisis stabilization through the Penn Center, mental health evaluations, prescriber appointments and peer support through AbbeHealth.

Additionally, substance use disorder patient support through the Area Substance Abuse Council will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon, with clinical support on call.

Access Center Director Erin Foster is the only county employee working at the center.

For after-hour services, individuals can call Foundation 2 Mobile Crisis Teams at 319-362-2174.

The Access Center cannot serve minors, people in need of immediate medical care or people who are violent upon arrival.

The center held a ceremonial ribbon cutting back in March to celebrate the completion of construction and has been adding services and clients since then.

Linn County supervisors provided $3.5 million in start-up funding for the center, which is located in the building that formerly housed Linn County Public Health.

The East Central Mental Health Region board last year agreed to support the new access centers in Linn County and Johnson County, increasing the regional property tax levy by 3 cents — to 34 cents per $1,000 in taxable property value — for fiscal 2021.

That increase provided almost $1.3 million to cover the center's first year of operating costs. The levy is divided among the nine counties, based on population.

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