A recommendation to build multiple new mental health crisis facilities was introduced by Penny Dreher, executive director of the Paint Valley Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board, at Wednesday’s meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Dreher said the organization, which encapsulates Fayette, Highland, Pickaway, Pike and Ross counties, has been working on crisis needs for about two years. She said the organization tried to do a crisis needs assessment internally, but it was too big of a job. She said they instead hired a company “from That State Up North” called tbd Solutions who had done that kind of work in other Ohio communities.
She said the company recommended that multiple facilities and teams be formed to combat the crisis needs in the area.
This first of those was a 23-hour observational unit facility tentatively placed in Ross County that would have six chairs and a daily intake of eight people. Dreher said the 23-hour clock would start when someone enters the facility and would spend that time to “disperse” the crisis, receive an assessment, determine whether the person would need to go to state hospitalization, the emergency room because of a medical issue, a crisis stabilization unit, or might only need to be talked down.
The second facility recommendation was a crisis stabilization unit tentatively placed in Pickaway County that would have six beds. Dreher said this facility is for people that don’t necessarily need to be hospitalized, but only need a few days to receive some medication.
The third recommendation was that the organization set up mobile crisis teams that have a one-hour response time. Dreher said they planned to do that by splitting the counties up, having two mobile crisis teams in Fayette and Highland counties, and three mobile crisis teams in Pickaway, Pike and Ross counties.
Dreher said because the ADAMH Board can’t provide direct services, they’re in the process of making requests for someone to run the facilities.
She said the only thing she was asking the commissioners for was a resolution in support of the plan. She also said that once she got approval from all of the county commissioners via resolution, the police chiefs, sheriffs and the hospitals, she wanted to meet with state officials who have access to American Rescue Plan Act money they could earmark to build the projects.
“I think if I go to them and show that we have this community, together, to support in moving this forward, I think, yeah, it speaks volumes. So, what I’m asking for today is this resolution,” Dreher said. “If you agree that you’re interested in signing that resolution, I can send it to you when I get back electronically and you can make any changes you want to this.”
Commission president Jeff Duncan said they would look to possibly move on the resolution at next week’s meeting when commissioner Dave Daniels, who wasn’t at this week’s meeting, would be present.
In other news, Kyle Petty, the new legislative counsel from the County Commissioners Association for Ohio (CCAO), visited the commissioners to introduce himself as well as deliver news, including the announcement that a $50 million grant was released by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction specifically for jail construction and renovation.
Petty said that he hoped the board of commissioners and the sheriff would apply once again for the next round of funding, even if they don’t think they would get the funding, because it would show the state the overall need for the money, calling the $50 million a drop in the bucket.
Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said that they would try and reapply this time with the help of the commissioners because there are some needs at the facility like the cages. He said that was because when they were built, the cages weren’t put in the upper tiers, which is a “big issue.” He said the flooring was another issue, saying it is 20-plus years old and the tiles have been coming up for about a year or more.
Barrera said they had until Nov. 30 to get all of the parts of the project in order. He said the only issue might be getting new quotes for the cages because they would have to go back to companies due to prices changing so much.
Concerning other issues, commissioner Terry Britton asked about issues with indigent defense and news the board received about how the reimbursement rate could change from 100 percent to 95 percent next year.
Petty said the indigent defense aspect is the other main issue he’s been working on. He said CCAO sent a survey to every county asking if they would want to keep the current reimbursement model where the local county controls and operates the system or to have the state completely take it over. He said the initial results showed an 80/20 split in favor of the state taking control. Petty said that’s something the state is currently looking at, but the problem is it would cost more.
Concerning the new $500 million of Appalachia funding, Duncan said they had preliminary conversations with some surrounding counties about merging together and aligning on projects. Petty said he was told the rules and regulations for the funds should be sent by the end of August.
In other news, Duncan said the county received Capital Improvement funds that would go towards a Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) Tower that the county has been needing. He said they didn’t receive enough funding for the whole project, so the county would need to make up the difference, but hasn’t yet figured out how they planned to do that.
Duncan also said there has been an issue with the humidifier or a lack of humidifier at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. Britton said they would need to contact Weller’s Plumbing and go over what they would need to do to make the unit right.
“I’m a little confused because, you know, we switched that unit out two years ago and it’s supposedly the same as the one that was in there, except it’s newer, but it’s not doing the job,” Britton said.
Duncan said the workers at the dog pound were setting up to pour more concrete and that some of the structure is up, saying it looked like it was progressing well.
Britton said that the old Buford school is just about to the ground and that the project there is going pretty well. He said the workers did a good job getting the structures tore down and the material hauled away. Concerning Sugartree Ridge, he said the school there is “completely” gone and that the ground has already been seeded.
In other news, there were two resolutions approved by the board of commissioners:
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.