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Dane County Set to Approve New Universal Access Resource Center to Improve Mental & Behavior Health Care

December 19, 2019
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Executive

Resource Center is Part of Three Point Plan to Invest More in Mental Health, Addiction Recovery across Dane County

The Dane County Universal Access Resource Center is one step closer to opening, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. A resolution approving the creation of this new one-stop resource center for mental and behavioral health care, authored by Supervisor Shelia Stubbs, is set to be approved at tonight’s County Board meeting. With funding from the 2020 county budget, the Dane County Universal Access Resource Center will bridge private and public mental and behavioral health care providers—making it easier for patients, their families, and even providers to navigate care and advocate for loved ones.

This new call center will be run by Dane County and designed after a model that has been effective with the Dane County Aging and Disability Resource Center, providing a direct link to seniors and those with disabilities to available community services. The goal is to have eight staff hired for the new Universal Access Resource Center starting this spring, with a grand opening slated for summer 2020. Initially, the center will operate from noon until 4:00 AM seven days a week with professional resource staff to help connect individuals with available care and treatment.

“Trying to navigate the maze of service options within the mental and behavioral health care field based on your type of insurance and where your plan allows you to go can quickly become stressful and deter those attempting to seek care. By opening this one-stop resource center and collaborating with health care providers, we hope to provide Dane County residents with improved access to care and better outcomes,” said County Executive Parisi. “It’s exciting to see this project take the steps it needs for us to begin offering this unique countywide service next year.”

The team at the Universal Access Resource Center will stay up-to-date on service delivery changes in the community of behavioral and mental health in Dane County. Their knowledge will be used to inform county residents seeking information on how to access care regardless of the system they are in—public or privately funded. The call center would be rooted in integrated relationships with all providers and systems in the county, creating a mutually beneficial resource and referral exchange, thereby making a significant leap forward towards the vision of integrated care coordinated through a single access point.

In addition to the Dane County Universal Access Resource Center, County Executive Parisi is also asking the Dane County Department of Human Services to convene a new Universal Access Work Group comprised of private and public health care providers. In October, Dane County released the results of a community mental health study, which was aimed at finding gaps in existing mental health care and finding ways to address them. Two key findings of the report included the need for private health providers and insurers to coordinate facility and provider capacity and formalize partnerships with the county.

Parisi is requesting the group meet monthly for the next 12 months and focus on the most effective means for private and public partners to collaborate. This workgroup would strive for formal, tangible work products in the form of signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) detailing processes and procedures, data sharing, and other elements necessary to create a roadmap to achieve the vision of better access and care delivery across systems.

This resolution going before the County Board also seeks to extend the county’s existing contract with the Dane County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and provide countywide crisis intervention training for all front line personnel—police officers, emergency medics, social workers and others who often first come into contact with individuals presenting in crisis and in need of referral to care. This training will help defuse situations and provide an entry point to necessary mental and behavioral health care. It is estimated that this training will cost $60,000.

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