Historic public-private partnership to offer more accessible, patient-centered and equitable mental health care in Milwaukee County
MILWAUKEE – On Tuesday morning, August 31, government officials, health care leaders and community members gathered at the future home of the Mental Health Emergency Center (1525 N. 12th Street) to celebrate the progress in developing the new emergency center. This is a joint venture between Milwaukee County and the area’s four health systems: Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert Health, and is the next major milestone in Milwaukee’s journey to offer more accessible, patient-centered and equitable mental health care.
**Photos can be downloaded here**
The event began with remarks from Mental Health Emergency Center Board Chair and Children’s Wisconsin Executive Vice President Bob Duncan, who thanked everyone for their dedication and support of this project and the invaluable services it will provide. Additional speakers included County Executive David Crowley, Advocate Aurora Health, Behavioral Health President Pete Carlson, Mayor Tom Barrett, Mental Health Board Chairwoman Maria Perez, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Mental Health Task Force Representative on the Mental Health Board Mary Neubauer, Alderman Russell Stamper’s representative Dameon Ellzey, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, Representative Kalan Haywood, Senator LaTonya Johnson and Governor Tony Evers.
The speakers shared a common theme: bringing mental and behavioral health resources into the Milwaukee community has never been more important. Additionally, tremendous funding donations were announced during the event, including $1 million from Rogers’ Behavioral Health, a federal funding request for $2.5 million from Senator Tammy Baldwin on behalf of the project partners, and Governor Tony Evers announced that, together with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), they have committed $5.7 million in overall funding. $4.5 million of this will come from Wisconsin’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds allocated under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the rest will come from carryover funding from the federal mental health block grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
This new funding will assist with remaining construction and start-up costs for the new center, which are projected to be $18 million. The County will cover 50 percent of those costs and the health systems will be responsible for the other half. Once open, the emergency center is expected to deliver care with an operating loss of $12 million annually. Operating shortfalls will be similarly split 50/50 between the County and the health systems and efforts are underway with DHS to consider how to improve Medicaid funding to ensure long-term sustainability.
Following remarks from the speakers, Richard Canter was recognized with a proclamation by the County Executive for his dedication and countless volunteer hours to bring the Mental Health Emergency Center to fruition; solely motivated by his personal commitment to improve mental and behavioral health services for the residents of Milwaukee County.
Also in attendance were community leaders including Children’s Wisconsin President and CEO Peggy Troy, Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services Director Shakita LaGrant-McClain, DHS Secretary Karen Timberlake, District Attorney John Chisholm, and many more.
To close the event, all attendees were invited to sign a beam, painted green to symbolize mental health awareness, that will be displayed in the new Mental Health Emergency Center. This will serve as a covenant to their shared commitment to address the mental and behavioral health needs of the community with clinical wisdom, service excellence, personal dignity, and respect.