County, health system partners eye near north side site for Milwaukee mental health emergency center

The Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex at the Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa.

Last updated on January 15th, 2021 at 01:05 pm

Milwaukee County and four partnering area health systems are eyeing a site at 12th and Walnut streets on Milwaukee’s near north side for their mental health emergency center joint venture.

The county and project partners Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert Health announced in December plans to develop the new emergency center, a significant step in a years-long process of redesigning the county’s mental health delivery system.

The 12,000-square-foot facility is proposed for a county-owned site southwest of the 12th and Walnut intersection, which is currently an empty lot.

Construction is expected to begin this spring with the goal of the emergency center being operational in March 2022.

Ald. Russell Stamper of Milwaukee’s 15th District will hold a virtual town hall on Jan. 21 with partners of the joint venture to discuss plans for the proposed facility. County Department of Health and Human Services and Behavioral Health Division representatives, Advocate Aurora Behavioral Health president Pete Carlson, JCP Construction president James Phelps and EUA senior design architect David Groth are scheduled to be part of the virtual meeting.

Stamper said the new facility will “bring jobs, enhanced security and new construction to the neighborhood,” in an announcement for the town hall.

The project partners say the proposed location – which is served by public transportation and is adjacent to the freeway – will make emergency mental health services more accessible to patients. Currently, 93% of patient visits to the Psychiatric Crisis Services Center at the Behavioral Health Division’s Mental Health Complex in Wauwatosa come from Milwaukee and more than 70% of patients live in close proximity to the proposed location.

The center will be developed and operated as a joint venture, with Milwaukee County being responsible for 50% of the construction, startup and operating costs and the health systems each contributing equal amounts to make up the other 50%.

Construction and other startup costs are anticipated to be $12 million. It’s expected to employ about 70 full-time-equivalent staff.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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