On July 29, District 1 Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert hosted a forum at Northcare to introduce a proposal she and her team have named “MAPS 4 Mental Health.”
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A large crowd of service providers, public officials, and concerned community members gathered at Northcare to hear details of Blumert’s proposal.
She explained that representatives from over a dozen service organizations and city, county, and state officials met with her team to develop the proposal. She asked the crowd to offer additional feedback about what needs they see for mental health care in Oklahoma City.
After presenting data demonstrating the needs in central Oklahoma for mental health care, the lack of resources to fulfill those needs, and the expense of incarceration of people experiencing mental health crises, Blumert described a novel solution to similar issues in Bexar County, Texas.
Blumert said the first part of her team’s proposal would be to build a Restoration Center closely mirroring the one in Bexar County. Their Restoration Center has a 16-bed crisis center, a clinic, outpatient wrap-around services, and is open 24 hours. This acts as a one-stop shop for people experiencing mental health crises and offers an alternative to jail.
By federal rules, crisis centers may only have 16 beds, said Blumert. Oklahoma County has only two crisis centers. When they run out of beds, law enforcement officers may spend hours trying to transport a resident to crisis centers an hour or more away. But, when beds run out, the resident in crisis ends up at County Jail. As Sgt. Hardin of the Sheriff’s Department said, “We don’t run out of beds.”
To answer this need, Blumert would like to build a number of additional Crisis centers.
Additionally, she is proposing 30 units of transitional housing for people experiencing homlessness when discharged from a crisis center. The transitional housing would have 24-hour wrap-around services and could help a resident achieve stability so that they could transition to more permanent housing in time.
Blumert invited several service providers and community members to share their mental healthcare experiences with the assembly.
Kyle Barkley from Turnkey Health described the challenges in offering services in the County Jail.
Shannon Garrison who works in peer support for Drug Court through City-County Health Department spoke of her own recovery from substance use disorder.
Sgt. Tara Hardin of the County Sheriff’s Department discussed the lack of options for law enforcement when trying to find a bed at a crisis center.
Randy Tate of Northcare explained the many changes in providing services over the decades of his career.
A private practitioner, Natasha Webb, talked about the increase of uninsured clients coming to her as well as the increase in methamphetamine-related psychosis she has witnessed.
Blumert, her team, and supporters will attend the Special Meeting of the City Council of Oklahoma City on August 6 at 9:00 a.m. to present the finalized proposal to the Council.
By that time they plan to incorporate feedback from the town hall and
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