Sebastian County Crisis Stabilization Unit Opening Delayed

Times Record

By Thomas Saccente

Progress continues to be made on the Sebastian County Crisis Stabilization Unit, but a planned opening date has been moved back.

A project schedule provided by Sebastian County Judge David Hudson states all components of the crisis stabilization unit construction project are expected to be finished by Feb. 21. The facility will be housed in one of the buildings on the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center’s campus, 3111 S. 70th St.

Hudson said earlier that the unit was targeted to open in January.

“We had meetings with state representatives about how the facility should be configured, and we made some revisions into the layout, and that resulted in delaying construction some because we had to have more design work, and that slowed it down a little bit,” Hudson said.

The architect for the project is Studio 6 Architects. Beshears Construction is the construction manager.

Rusti Holwick, CEO of the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center, said the center is conducting interviews, and have hired some staff members. Among the staff that will be working at the crisis stabilization unit when it opens are registered nurses, mental health paraprofessionals and licensed mental health professionals, the last of which are already in place. The center will also probably still be looking for someone to work as a county service representative.

“We still have ads yet to go out, so our ads will be out, and we’re going to be continuing to recruit, so that’ll maybe help us with the process,” Holwick said.

The center will start the process of “onboarding,” orientation and training for the crisis stabilization unit staff Feb. 12.

“It’s a state requirement, and also a Medicaid requirement, that mental health paraprofessionals, and in the new system, they’re actually going to be called ‘qualified behavioral health professionals,’ that they go through a 40-hour training by the provider,” Holwick said. “So our agency will provide that training for these individuals to stay on board. ”

Hudson said on Tuesday crisis intervention training of a number of law enforcement officers took place the previous week. The training will be ongoing. Operating policies for the crisis stabilization unit are currently being reviewed based on policies that have been implemented in other centers in other states, such as Oklahoma.

“It’d be the policies that would guide the staff to operate the facility, and how they will interface to the law enforcement officers bringing individuals in,” Hudson said. “There’s actually quite a bit left to be done to finalize in regard to written operating policies, and I’m in contact with Rusti Holwick on that, and we’ll be looking at that throughout January to put those in final form.”

Hudson said there are also many expenses that will be incurred in regard to start-up supplies and equipment.

“There’s quite a bit of details yet to make it ready for opening date, but within the next four weeks, a lot of things are going to happen,” Hudson said.