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New Mental Health Emergency Center Will Reduce ER, Jail Use, Agency Says

KCStat, the city agency charged with using data to improve government efficiency, expects the new Kansas City Assessment and Triage Center (KC-ATC) that opened Monday to reduce the use of emergency rooms and jails.  

Data show that 8,000 people with substance abuse problems and 9,000 with mental health issues visited area emergency rooms between 2012 and 2014. Some of them showed up in the emergency room more than 100 times.

The new KC-ATC facility has 16 beds, four of which were filled on the first day. It’s not designed to be a long-term facility; patients are stabilized and referred to outside services within 24 hours. Only patients referred by law enforcement or hospitals are accepted.

At a KCStat meeting on Monday, Municipal Court Administrator Megan Pfannenstiel also presented the results of a study designed to improve the efficiency of Kansas City Municipal Court. Based on data collected for a study by The National Center for State Courts, court operations have changed in some key ways over the last few months.

In the past, for example, victims, witnesses and police were required to appear at first hearings. Now victims, witnesses and police are only required to show up when the case goes to trial.

The impact on police officers has been significant – 70 percent less time in court – or a decrease from 142 to 43 times per week.

“We think this is a big overhaul for attorneys, prosecutors and the police department,” Pfannenstiel said.

Laura Ziegler is a Community Engagement Reporter and Producer. You can reach her on twitter @laurazig or with email at zieglerl@umkc.edu

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
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