A Kansas City, Kan., facility meant to improve emergency mental health care was lauded by state officials, mental health service providers and law enforcement officials at a first-anniversary celebration Tuesday.
Rainbow Services Inc. opened April 7, 2014, to provide stabilization services for mental health or substance abuse emergencies. The facility near the University of Kansas Medical Center previously housed the Rainbow Mental Health Facility, a former state mental hospital.
Overland Park, Kan., police officer Thomas Keary said RSI had reduced the problem of law enforcement officials serving as ad hoc mental health service providers.
“It gives us the opportunity to solve the problem, not just put a band-aid on it,” he said at Tuesday’s event.
Rainbow Services says the new program served more than 1,000 individuals in its first year.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which funds the program with a three-year grant, says RSI has reduced the use of Osawatomie State Hospital. The department points to 12 percent fewer bed days at Osawatomie, the larger of the state’s two inpatient facilities for adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses, between April 2014 and March 2015 than the previous 12-month period.
“I think the results have proven the concept,” KDADS secretary Kari Bruffett said.
RSI is operated by Wyandot Inc., a nonprofit community service organization that serves Wyandotte County. RSI’s partners include the Johnson County Kansas Mental Health Center and Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment.
Wyandot Inc. CEO Randy Callstrom said he gave RSI’s first year a grade of B+. He said Wyandot is looking at ways to improve its services, including enhancing its capacity to provide detox services.
Callstrom said RSI is not billing for services, and one of the next steps will be to introduce a billing system.
The Rainbow building was sold to the University of Kansas Endowment Association at the start of 2014. Bruffett said the sale agreement included a provision for the RSI program to remain in place for the next two years. Beyond that, she said, the future of the program there will be up to the KU Endowment.
KDADS is eager to introduce the same crisis intervention approach to other Kansas communities, Bruffett said. A similar program, COMCARE, was launched in Sedgwick County in March.
Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.