Boise seeks state crisis center funding

The Allumbaugh House would house a pilot project for mental health treatment.

STATESMAN STAFF AND WIRE REPORTSJune 13, 2014 

The governing organization for Boise's Allumbaugh House - a long-term treatment center - has applied for about $1.5 million in state funds to open a behavioral health crisis center.

"We are uniquely positioned to get the work up and running quickly," said Diana Lachiondo, director of community partnerships for Mayor David Bieter.

The crisis center would open in part of the Allumbaugh House building that had been set aside for a sobering program.

"Our emergency rooms and jail systems are both very burdened dealing with mental health and alcohol issues," she said, adding that ERs at both of Boise's major hospitals and jails are "incredibly expensive" alternatives.

The funding is part of a pilot project to open crisis centers, aimed at treating people with mental illness and substance abusers before they end up in hospitals or in the criminal-justice system.

The Boise proposal is up against similar pitches from Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene, where county sheriffs say regional support and cooperation between health agencies and law enforcement make them good candidates for the pilot funds.

Lachiondo said all three communities vying to open crisis centers "need this kind of resource."

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare expects a committee of behavioral health, financial and research professionals to choose one of the proposals within a week, according to news reports.

"The decision will be based on local support, community need and how well organized each community is so that they can get going as soon as possible," agency spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr told the Post Register in Idaho Falls.

The Idaho Legislature this year approved a $600,000 startup grant for the program, plus $1.52 million that would fund operations at one center.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare had originally asked for the $600,000 startup money and funding to operate three crisis centers.

The department plans to use data from the initial crisis center to garner support for an expanded program, Forbing-Orr said.

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney said he supports the Boise proposal, though his office wasn't actively involved in crafting it.

"That was one of the intended purposes of Allumbaugh House when it was built," he said. "The need for a crisis-care facility is still great here in Ada County."

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