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Ozark Center opens first Urgent Care for Mental Health

Ozark Center staff, Freeman Health System leaders, and state and federal politicians cut the ribbon on the first and only urgent care for behavioral health issues in the southwest Missouri region. Ozark Center Urgent Behavioral Solutions (UBS) offers an alternative to the emergency room and saves time and money for individuals 16 and up who have significant behavioral health symptoms.         

“Ozark Center and Freeman Health System are dedicated to removing barriers between behavioral and physical health,” says Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and Chief Executive Officer. “We believe the two go hand-in-hand, and our caregivers continually look for innovative approaches to integrating mental and physical healthcare. Urgent Behavioral Solutions is one of those innovative approaches. Nearly one in five adults has a mental illness in any given year, so integrating mental health services with physical healthcare is vitally important.”

“There is a significant gap in emergency behavioral healthcare in our community,” says Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “Individuals experiencing mental illness often have difficulty accessing timely urgent mental healthcare. In addition, the mortality gap is increasing because individuals with serious mental illness have a higher prevalence of chronic medical conditions than the general population.”

UBS includes a multi-disciplinary team and provides a trauma-informed place to receive care, meaning it emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety.

“The goal is to treat the whole person by blending the expertise of behavioral health and primary medical care,” says Mieseler. “This approach saves lives, reduces negative health outcomes, facilitates quality care, and promotes efficiency and cost savings.”

The facility is funded by a reoccurring two-million-dollar federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA has reported a nearly 900% increase in the number of calls to its crisis hotline since last year. Isolation, anxiety, economic uncertainty and limits on in-person counseling during the pandemic have created the perfect storm for an unprecedented – and potentially deadly – mental health crisis.

The funding for the new behavioral urgent care clinic provides for a staff of twelve to fifteen employees providing both behavioral and medical health treatment.

UBS opens October 1, 2020, and has extended hours for those with behavioral health urgent needs. It is open 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Monday – Friday and has weekend hours of 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. It is located at 3230 Wisconsin Ave., Suite A in Joplin.

Find more detailed information about UBS at ozarkcenter.com/UBS.

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