MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. — The building that houses Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex closed to new admissions on Friday after more than 40 years of service.
The team of people behind redesigning how mental health services are provided in the county describes the change as a milestone to better serve people sooner and closer to home.
"The county has gotten to a point where our community-based system of care has been so successful, it has reduced the demand for inpatient hospital needs," said Michael Lappen, administrator for Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services.
Lappen said the drop in demand at the complex prompted a redesign to build on partnerships with community clinics like Sixteenth Street, Outreach Community Health Centers, Progressive Community Health Centers, and now Milwaukee Health Services to reach people sooner and before they find themselves in an emergency.
The complex's longtime location was not exactly the most convenient and the facility itself was outdated.
"The key to a healthier community is going to be to have access to those preventative cares just like any other healthcare issue," Lappen said.
The redesign includes moving emergency room services to a brand new location on 12th street in Milwaukee to reach an area where the vast majority of people who used psychiatric crisis services in the last decade live.
"I'm looking forward to the transition, looking forward to being closer to the community," said Lauren Hubbard, director of community crisis services in Milwaukee County.
Hubbard first started working at the mental health complex 10 years ago as a registered nurse in psychiatric crisis services now she is in a leadership role.
"It has operated the state's only mental health emergency room up until this point, so it will be a change for individuals for our partners and stakeholders. But I think there's a positive change," Hubbard said.
While services moved to other areas of the community they are still available to anyone regardless of their ability to pay.
You can always reach their 24/7 crisis hotline at (414) 257-7222.