Prairie View Blazing Trail By Becoming One of the First Community Mental Health Centers in Kansas to Open An Urgent Care Unit for Mental Health

April 19, 2023

NEWTON, Kan. (April 19, 2023) – From its founding, Prairie View has helped to blaze the trail for mental health reform and the treatment of people living with mental illness and other mental health concerns. A new chapter will be written in Prairie View’s history later this year as the organization, preparing to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2024, looks to renovate the current inpatient psychiatric hospital in order to open a unit focused on urgent care for mental health in Harvey County, one of the first of its kind in the state of Kansas.

Construction, Collaboration and Community
Prairie View will begin its transition of the inpatient unit to an urgent care model  as early as this winter. Construction will begin this summer and is anticipated to be complete in six to nine months. The project will initially serve Harvey County, but once the pilot project is complete, Prairie View will expand its urgent care services to Marion and McPherson counties.

The Behavioral Urgent Care (BUC) unit is part of Prairie View’s journey to becoming qualified as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC). CCBHCs were originally developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as an outpatient, integrated care model incorporating care coordination. KDADS says the goals of the CCBHC program in Kansas are to: “1. Increase access to community-based mental health and substance use disorder services (particularly to under-served communities); 2. Advance integration of behavioral health with physical health care; and 3. Improve utilization of evidence-based practices on a more consistent basis.” The CCBHC model is recovery-oriented.

As community mental health centers across Kansas become qualified as CCBHCs, the goal is to have each county capable of helping individuals struggling with immediate crisis needs.

“This program will meet the needs of individuals who may be detained in jail or housed in the local Emergency Department who would more appropriately benefit from mental health services,” says Marcy Johnson, Prairie View President and CEO.

Prairie View has hosted a series of meetings with local law enforcement agencies in order to strengthen relationships and build camaraderie. Prairie View will further those relationships and development of this program’s processes in the coming months.

Goals of the Behavioral Urgent Care (BUC) Unit

The primary goal of BUC will be to keep individuals experiencing a mental health crisis safe while they wait for a bed elsewhere.
“Inpatient staff are excited to know that, despite change, we are going to continue to serve clients in crisis situations who need care,” says Johnson.

Individuals will be admitted both involuntarily and voluntarily.

  • Involuntary: Those coming involuntarily will be brought to the unit by law enforcement personnel who have worked with local emergency rooms to medically clear them before transfer.
  • Voluntary: Anyone undergoing a mental health crisis may contact Prairie View for an evaluation to see if they would benefit from the unit.

In order to keep the unit and staff safe, this unit will not be for criminally violent or aggressive individuals, but those truly needing help to stay safe until inpatient placement can be secured.

The Future of Prairie View’s Inpatient Unit & Long-Term Planning

Prairie View’s inpatient psychiatric hospital has been the cornerstone of the organization since its founding in 1954. Once BUC opens, the current inpatient unit will be suspended as additional renovations occur. It is Prairie View’s hope that the inpatient unit will reopen again in 2025.  

All staff will be retained, and more will be added as the transition takes place. Security measures will also be updated.

“Once BUC is open and inpatient services have resumed, Prairie View will be able to offer consumers a more comprehensive approach to mental health care,” says Johnson. “Individuals may come to us for urgent care, then transfer to the inpatient unit for additional care. If needed, upon discharge, clients can utilize our partial hospitalization program before entering outpatient services. This is a full line of services that keeps people struggling with mental health at the place that specializes in mental health.”