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Published on December 19, 2018

Integrated Mental Health Center Coming to Guilford County

A unique partnership plans to bring a mental health urgent care center to Greensboro.


Guilford County, Cone Health and Sandhills Center are working to bring additional services to Guilford County. These integrated services will treat people in crisis and address their physical, mental and substance abuse issues – an innovative approach that is unlike other mental health urgent care centers.  The partnership – known as the Guilford County Behavioral Health Crisis Collaborative – is supported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The partnership plans to build a mental health urgent care center and two 16-bed facility-based crisis centers: one for adults, and the other for adolescents and children. Additionally, there will be space for outpatient services for adults, adolescents and children.  These centers are designed to provide comprehensive behavioral health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “In a time of profound challenge for mental health across our nation, we are bringing a unique structure and array of programs and services to Guilford County,” says Debbie Cunningham, DNP, MSN, RN, president, Women's Hospital and Behavioral Health Hospital and senior vice president, Cone Health. “We are hopeful that our vision will have a major impact on people’s quality of life and serve as a new model of care for others in our state and beyond.”

The collaborative seeks to identify a building site of approximately five acres that has access to utilities, is in close proximity to a hospital and is served by public transportation. The design of the facilities will be unique and customized to provide comprehensive services in an efficient, professional environment that is mindful of each individual’s dignity.

Guilford County will cover the design and construction costs of the planned adult crisis center, and has partnered with Cone Health as the service provider. The estimated cost of the adult facility is $20 million.  The partnership will seek additional financial assistance from the State of North Carolina and other grantees and donors.

Sandhills Center, the local management entity-managed care organization serving Guilford and eight other central North Carolina counties, will cover the design and construction cost for the planned child/adolescent crisis center. Sandhills Center will select a service provider for the child/adolescent crisis center which  is expected to be between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet, with an estimated cost of $8 million. Guilford County, Cone Health and Sandhills Center will seek input from other behavioral health stakeholders in the community as plans for the facility are finalized.

“This innovative project wouldn’t be possible without the unprecedented cooperation of the organizations involved,” says Jeff Phillips, vice chair, Guilford County Board of Commissioners.  The unique collaboration came about as a result of existing regulations which prohibit entities from operating two crisis centers in the same location. “I want to sincerely thank every organization for their powerful commitment to our citizens in making this transformative project a reality.”

Too often people in a mental health crisis go to a hospital emergency room. They can be there for hours or even days waiting for the appropriate care. These are people who, at times, simply cannot function. Their actions may put them at risk of hurting themselves or others. The mental health urgent care center will be designed for people having a crisis. In this planned facility, people will receive prompt, comprehensive and integrated care, and as a result, can avoid a trip to an emergency room.

Guilford County Commissioner At-Large Kay Cashion, who also serves on the Sandhills Board of Directors, states that “Guilford County has historically been very progressive in providing high-quality mental health services. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the collaborative and everyone’s efforts to improve access to behavioral health and substance abuse care.”

The plan will come before the Guilford County Board of Commissioners during its January meeting.

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