Olmsted County received notice this week that state funding is available for its plans to build a regional mental health crisis center.

“They have selected our proposal,” Deputy County Administrator Paul Fleissner told Olmsted County commissioners Tuesday, noting the county was informed contract negotiations will start Friday.

He said it’s unclear what the negotiations will entail and whether the proposed project will receive the requested funding.

“I’ll know more on Friday,” he said.

State lawmakers earmarked $28.1 million last year to create facilities to house services that treat people with mental illness or chemical-dependency disorders. Up to $5 million in state funds could be available for an individual project.

Olmsted County’s proposal to create a mental-health crisis center for a 10-county region was fueled through collaboration with other counties and a variety of government and nonprofit agencies, including health-care providers Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center.

The collaboration identified the need for a place to turn when people are facing a mental health crisis.

Today, that place is often an emergency room, which can be a deterrent for people who know their stays could be hours or days before stable help is found.

Mayo Clinic Emergency Room Dr. Casey Clements has said another resource is needed to ensure the right treatment is available as soon as possible.

In November, Tim Hunter, Olmsted County’s regional programs director, said estimates show the proposed regional facility could expect to serve an average of 11 people daily or 4,015 in a year.

While operational costs of the proposed crisis center are uncertain — estimates range from $3.4 million to $4.6 million a year — Hunter said approximately 65 percent of the related expenses are expected to be billable to health insurance. Other costs could be covered by various partners, who will likely see reduced costs elsewhere.

For now, the focus will likely be on the creation of the center, Fleissner said.

If the state negotiations end with less funding than expected, he said the county might need to look for additional sources to support the plan.

What's your reaction?