Lourdes Health Network will increase staffing of the Benton-Franklin crisis response unit when it takes over an expiring contract on Oct. 1.
John Serle, president and CEO, confirmed the health system is negotiating to replace the Benton-Franklin Human Services department as the provider of mental health emergency services in the region. The county agency will stop fielding crisis calls at the end of September.
Serle said Lourdes is honored to assume the responsibility for crisis response. He praised the 20-person county crisis response unit for taking on a very difficult job under trying circumstances.
“I think the crisis response unit has done a valiant job of trying to meet the community needs,” he said. “Our goal is to build on what they had in place and to improve services, to be able to recruit and retain people.”
Uncertainty about the future has made it difficult to recruit and retain staff. Serle pledged to fully staff the department.
“We want to hire in as many people as we can,” he said. Lourdes will integrate the crisis response work into its existing suite of services, which includes posting staff at the Benton and Franklin county jails, residential services, court diversion programs, withdrawal management and more.
The Benton and Franklin county commissions jointly decided in June to end their contract to provide emergency mental health services to Greater Behavioral Health. Serle said both sides are working to ensure the transition is seamless.