Today the Cook County Health (CCH), with support from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Cook County Justice Advisory Council, celebrated the opening of CCH’ new pilot Community Triage Center (CTC).

The CCH CTC provides 24/7 intervention and stabilization services for individuals who are at-risk of detention or hospitalization due to a mental health or substance abuse condition. The CTC’s primary services include mental health crisis assessments and stabilization, health assessments, and referrals for treatment, case management and follow-up. This is the first walk-in clinic of its kind in Chicago.

“Substance abuse and mental health disorders are not criminal justice issues, they are health issues,” Preckwinkle said. “I’m pleased to support our health system in making investments to provide much-needed care to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The CTC provides walk-in services for residents age 18 and older, as well as individuals from the Cook County Jail in need of follow-up care. CCH is working closely with the Chicago Police Department to support officers who are transporting individuals in need of care to the CTC as an early, street-level intervention.

“A person struggling with a mental health condition or addiction should not have to wait until they are arrested or have a medical emergency to receive treatment,” said Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO, CCH. “With the CTC we hope to reduce unnecessary and costly hospitalizations and detentions and, more importantly, ease the incalculable suffering of those living with uncontrolled behavioral health conditions.”

The CTC is staffed by masters-level nurses, licensed clinical social workers, case managers and peer supporters. Psychiatrist consultations are available on-demand and performed by CCH psychiatrists. CCH is investing $3 million to operationalize and run the CTC in 2016.

“Making sure our residents have the resources they need to live safe and healthy lives is our top priority,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The new triage center in Roseland is yet another example of how we can better ensure those in need of mental health services can get the care they need. I want to thank the County and our first responders for their continued partnership in helping our city’s most vulnerable residents access quality mental health services.”

“This new Triage Center will provide a vital community service that is sorely needed and help us achieve our goal of keeping people who do not belong in County Jail out of County Jail,” said Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, whose district includes the CTC. “I am proud of the County’s efforts to develop this facility and grateful for the partnership of the City and others.”

CCH received a $348,000 planning grant from the Otho SA Sprague Institute in 2015 to support development of the clinic.  The CTC model has been successfully implemented in other cities in the U.S., such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Antonio.

The CTC is one tactic in CCH’ broader strategy to expand access to behavioral health services in Cook County.

As previously announced the health system also plans to offer behavioral health treatment in its community health centers, expand addiction medicine service and naloxone distribution, and establish a consortium of behavioral health care providers to serve more than 150,000 members of CountyCare, CCH’ Medicaid managed care health plan.