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Crisis center work continues to emerge

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Southeast Regional Crisis Center
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Construction plans are in the works for a proposed regional mental health crisis center.

"We are hoping to have the construction documents finished soon, advertising for bids in early March and opening the bids after the required posting timeline," said Mat Miller, Olmsted County’s director of facilities and building operations.

The news comes nearly a year after the county received word it would receive $5 million to build a 16-unit crisis center.

The funds are the maximum amount allowed for any center established under 2018 legislation that set aside $28.1 million to create or renovate facilities to house services for people with mental illness or chemical-dependency disorders.

The goal is to create a place for people within a 10-county Southeast Minnesota region to turn when facing a crisis.

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"The crisis center will fill an existing gap in care for people in Southeast Minnesota who are experiencing mental illness," said Dr. Bruce Sutor, practice chairman for the Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. "The center will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that individuals can get the care they need when they need it in a calm, safe and welcoming environment."

Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center are joining the 10 counties to financially support operations, with added insight from local National Alliance on Mental Illness representatives.

On Thursday, the group announced the official name for the center -- Southeast Regional Crisis Center -- as well as a logo for the operation, which is expected to open in 2021

While the funding for construction of the new facility was approved in March, Deputy County Administrator Paul Fleissner said it was delayed, which has put the project behind its original schedule.

‘We’re already months behind on this," he recently told members of the Olmsted County Board’s administrative committee.

The county filed a site development plan last month, which would put the facility on nearly 1.9 acres on the county’s east campus. It’s located just south of Silver Creek Corner.

The site development plans call for a one-story medical building with space for professional staff, as well as 16 single-occupancy rooms. It shows a driveway access from Campus Drive Southeast, with space for 24 cars.

Allison Sosa, Rochester’s community development planning supervisor, said the site plan is under review, with the expectation that a potential response to the county would be ready in the second week of March.

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Miller said the county is aiming for a groundbreaking in April, with an anticipated 13-month construction schedule.

The county’s construction documents are nearly complete, with plans to seek a contractor in early March.

He said early estimates indicate the proposed building will fall within the $5 million provided by the state, but some aspects of the plans could be altered if project bids come in higher than expected.

"If we have to value engineer something to be within that $5 million, we will have that flexibility," he said.

Fleissner said he’s also hoping to put out a request for an operations partner within the next month. He said reaching an agreement with a care provider to oversee operations is important as construction plans are being finalized.

"We really could have used having them on board a month or two ago, because we need them on board to help with final design and get their team together to be ready to roll," he said.

One reason for the delay in securing the operations partner has been the lack of a governance agreement between the entities that will oversee operations in the county-owned building.

A copy of the agreement is slated to be considered by county commissioners at their March 10 meeting.

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While the county would maintain oversight of the building, the agreement calls for creating an executive board to oversee other aspects of the operations. The proposed board would include two representatives from the local 10-county mental health initiative, two Mayo Clinic representatives, one representative from Olmsted Medical Center, one local NAMI representative, and an Olmsted County representative.

Fleissner the agreement and construction plans indicate the process is moving forward.

"I feel like we are in a really good place," he added.

Southeast Regional Crisis Center logo

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