Brown County Crisis Center relocated to Gershwin Drive
By Lea Kopke
GREEN BAY – Family Services’ Crisis Center employees began to transition into a new location at 3150 Gershwin Drive, a building addition to the Brown County Community Treatment Center, May 24.
The center, funded by the 2017 Debt Reduction, Infrastructure and Property Tax Relief Plan, opened to the public Tuesday, June 1.
Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said the new location enables the county to provide more effective crisis response services, in a “one-stop shop.”
These services include crisis counseling by phone and in person, active follow-up services, referral privileges and assessment for emergency and voluntary inpatient hospitalization.
Jeff Vande Leest, Family Services CEO and president, said this one-stop approach is more important now than ever, as the area begins to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we’re starting to see the health impact of COVID and the emotional threat of its approach,” Vande Leest said. “That is something that we’re really going to see, the long-term mental health and emotional effects of this pandemic.”
Tana Koss, the Family Services Division Director of Crisis and Counseling Services, said the center responds to about 5,500 calls per year, with 200 calls per month coming from individuals considering suicide.
Koss said the crisis center is meant to provide care for low- to moderate-risk individuals so emergency departments are not overwhelmed, allowing them to focus on high acuity individuals, or those requiring more intensive and closely monitored care.
Eric Pritzl, executive director of Brown County Health and Human Services, said the new center was built with the concept of trauma-informed care in mind.
“Something that is unique is that the group that looked at this 10 years ago actually got it, by saying, ‘Spending extra time in custody and moving around the community and delaying the start of care in a psychiatric facility can cause trauma.’”
In the current system, Streckenbach said individuals have to repeat their story each time they are moved to a new facility.
At the new center, counselors will be able to either invite staff from other departments into the counseling room or help to relay the information during transfers, he said.
“Instead of that individual telling that story multiple times, and having that crisis reoccur every time they have to tell it, they only have to tell it once,” Strechenbach said.
The center should also benefit law enforcement by decreasing the amount of time an officer spends managing an individual.
At present, officers can spend up to 10-15 hours of their day with an individual as they go through crisis clearance, Streckenbach said.
“It decreases the amount of time a person is in custody, it reduces having multiple stops and reduces the steps in the process,” he said. “The end result is that in many situations we believe we can get law enforcement officers back on the road faster.”
Two of the center’s three counseling rooms are located just inside the facility’s main entrance so not all individuals need to be brought farther into the building, Koss said.
“If a person’s more acute, they’ll go deeper into the facility,” she said. “If we can work on them with de-escalation and they’re gonna go home with a safety plan, probably they’re gonna see just this piece of the facility.”
The middle section of the facility features the third counseling room and a large room for crisis counselors’ desks.
The back area includes medical assessment rooms, as well as observation rooms – which will typically be used for intoxicated individuals.
There is also a small seating area, where officers can both keep an eye on individuals under observation and fill out reports.
Streckenbach said the building’s design is meant to create a more comfortable environment than the previous facility.
There are large windows and skylights to enhance natural light, and a side entrance for law enforcement to bypass the front waiting area.
Pritzl said he believes the more welcoming feel of the building may encourage individuals to participate in voluntary services.
“Crisis services include voluntary services,” Pritzl said. “It’s possible that in changing the environment people are coming into, the consumer may be more comfortable and will maybe see that environment and then actually become more interested in voluntary services.”