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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune Jo Jo Blanton, director of the Crisis Stabilization Center located inside Compass Health on Metro Drive, talks about the changes that will be made to this room to make way for four slots for individuals who may be in need of immediate intervention.

Jefferson City will be the home for one of six new Crisis Stabilization Centers being established statewide and funded in large part by the state of Missouri.

The centers are 23-hour sites intended to break people undergoing crises away from jails or expensive hospital emergency room visits. Diverted to the centers, patients may receive a meal, hygiene products, showers and other services. And they receive a mental health assessment and any treatment or medications they may need.

Compass Health Network will provide the sites for three of the centers, including one in Jefferson City.

The Jefferson City location, at Compass Health, 227 Metro Drive, will include a private entrance for emergency responders and the patients they're transporting.

Jo Jo Blanton, the manager of the local center, provided a tour of the site.

Compass Health is the perfect partner for the program, he said. Its focus on behavioral health and helping clients overcome substance use disorder are exactly what Missouri is seeking in the centers. And, because many of its staff members have transitioned to working from home, room within the structure is abundant. Additionally, he said, many staff members have moved into offices at another Compass Health Network site in Jefferson City.

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The center will occupy only a bottom floor of the Metro Drive building. Architects have measured the location and submitted some preliminary drawings of what they envision, Blanton said.

"Nothing's been finalized," Blanton said. "So we're in the process of bidding it out."

Some walls will need to be moved, he said. Others will have to be added.

The majority of the center will be take up by four "slots." Administrators emphasize that the slots are to be recliners, where a client may sleep if he or she needs to, but stays are limited to 23 hours.

"We will also have a private room," Blanton said. "Basically, a place where people can go if they are louder or are having an outburst — or just in general struggling and don't want to be around other people."

Other features will be a kitchenette, a private office for first responders and possibly a private entrance for first responders.

The kitchenette is a key feature, he said. It'll offer soups, sandwiches, snacks and other items.

"Can you imagine sitting somewhere when you're in a crisis and also hungry? People are testy enough when they're just hungry, let alone in a crisis," Blanton said. "So that's hugely important. People will feel safe and secure, but we're also taking care of their biological needs."

Mental health and physical health are connected, he said.

The center will also have bathrooms and a place where clients may do their laundry.

A number of staff members will be necessary for the center, he said. Compass Health has hired directors for each of its centers and a senior director for them.

"We're collecting résumés, but no one else has been hired," Blanton said. "We wanted the director team to be onboard so they could help as much as possible with the hiring process. The thing with dealing with crisis, or in this instance running a 24-hour facility, so much comes down to culture — and a very particular type of culture: self-directed, the ability to make decisions in the absence of leadership."

Directors won't be available 24 hours a day. So Compass is searching for very strong individuals.

"We want to get this thing off the ground right," he said. "You do that by making sure your culture is established. We're being really picky about who we bring in and what that's going to look like."

Openings are listed on the Compass Health Network website.

Compass is searching for Community Living Instructors — someone who is on shift. They will act as a sort of "welcome wagon." They help by getting patients settled and ready to go into the process of being assessed.

Among other positions are the integrated health specialists, who are a sort of community support specialist. They are oftentimes case managers, who act as the leading points on patients' health care. They generally require a bachelor's degree and about two years in the field.

Compass will look at folks who have associate's degrees with some type of behavioral health-based background.

The Jefferson City center could open in the fall.

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