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Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center to serve community members battling addiction, mental illness

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Many in the Douglas County community have spent years advocating and collaborating on the Treatment and Recovery Center. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, they celebrated the new facility as a resource for residents who have serious mental illness and substance use disorders.

“Today is a day for celebrating because this building will save lives. Because the people who serve the people who come to this building will help them change their life for the better,” said Bob Tryanski, Douglas County’s director of behavioral health projects.

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The TRC, located at 1000 W. Second St., is part of the Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County. The campus offers a holistic approach to social services with its focus on both behavioral health and stable housing.

The TRC will provide medical care and behavioral health services when its programming launches later this summer, right next door to permanent and transitional housing services.

This kind of integrated approach is exactly why Shannon Reid, Douglas County Commission Chair, champions the TRC as a necessary solution for meeting residents’ needs. After all, it’s what Douglas County residents explicitly asked for.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times A crowd listens to Bob Tryanski speak at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center, June 23, 2022.

“More than 70% of voters affirmed that our community wanted a steady public funding source for this critical work. There were 33,775 ‘yes’ votes to Proposition 1 in 2018. I remember so many public forums, petition signature drives with grassroots organizers, and the difficult conversations. It was real community work to get us here,” Reid said.

The TRC will be sustainably funded through a variety of sources, including the quarter-cent sales tax Reid referenced, which was approved by voters to improve behavioral health services and facilities in Douglas County. She has been an advocate for reducing the use of the local jail and instead focusing on integrated crisis care that is accessible, safe and acutely responsive.

Nearly everyone in Douglas County has been personally affected by a family member, friend, or neighbor who has completed suicide or fatally overdosed because of the lack of access to safe and effective crisis interventions. Reid recalled stories and memories of loved ones in her life who might still be alive today if they had access to safe and effective crisis interventions, which the TRC will provide.

“There is no other facility like this in Kansas, and I would dare say there is no other facility like this in a town our size anywhere else in the nation,” said Patrick Schmitz, CEO of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the project’s other major players, including Dr. George Thompson, executive director of the TRC; and Russ Johnson, CEO and president of LMH Health.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Left to right, Russ Johnson, Laura Howard, Patrick Schmitz, Dr. George Thompson, Shannon Reid and Bob Tryanski hold the ribbon ahead of an open house at Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center, June 23, 2022.

The TRC’s services

Community members had the opportunity to tour the center today and get a deeper look into the services it will provide. As a leader in urgent care, the TRC’s mission is to create a safe environment for people to seek the help they need, when they need it, to start their journey toward recovery. There are three main components of the facility where they’ll do that.

The TRC’s Access Center is where anyone can walk through the front door and receive assistance; the process starts with an initial assessment to determine treatment and further evaluation. 

In an observation unit, behavioral health professionals will attempt to calm and stabilize patients while also working on a treatment and recovery plan. While patients are receiving their plan, they can recover for a few days in the TRC’s stabilization unit.

These areas span the full 20,000-square-foot facility and will be supported by a multidisciplinary staff, with roles ranging from peer support specialists to case managers to psychiatric professionals. Even after a patient leaves the TRC, staff will continue supporting them with access to other community resources and programs.

Community partnerships

The TRC is the result of collaboration and investment from numerous local institutions. Behavioral Health Partners, Inc. (BHP) has played one of the most integral roles. The nonprofit partnership between LMH Health and Bert Nash provides leadership, clinical oversight, and operational management of the TRC.

BHP is also the source of the TRC’s nine-member board of directors. The board’s guiding values include embracing inclusion, championing human rights, and ensuring equitable outcomes for TRC patients.

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Partners from the Behavioral Health Leadership Coalition have also been instrumental in planning efforts for the center. These agencies include LMH Health, Bert Nash, DCCCA, Heartland Community Health Center, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center, Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, and Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters.

The TRC’s launch team also collaborated with Lawrencians who have lived experience with the issues they seek to tackle: homelessness, trauma and beyond.

Though the public got its first peek at the TRC Thursday, the facility has come a long way since construction commenced at a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2020. But as the TRC begins its work later this summer to tackle complex issues such as addiction, mental illness and cyclical homelessness, the journey is only beginning.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times A crowd gathers at Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center, June 23, 2022.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times A crowd listens to Bob Tryanski speak at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center, June 23, 2022.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Douglas County Commission Chair Shannon Reid speaks.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Russ Johnson, CEO of LMH Health, speaks.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times Dr. George Thompson, executive director of Douglas County’s Treatment and Recovery Center, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times This room is “mission control,” with windows looking into the observation area and the living quarters area.
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times
August Rudisell/Lawrence Times

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Jordan Winter (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a 2019 KU grad with degrees in journalism and political science.

Check out her work at jrdnwntr.com. Read more of her stories for the Times here.

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