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Grant to establish behavioral health urgent care at Ozark Center

May 01, 2020

Ozark Center has received a $2 million grant to support mental health and addiction services.

The center, the behavioral health services branch of Freeman Health System, is one of five certified community behavioral health clinics in Missouri sharing $14 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"We appreciate the support of such critical services as many struggle with the emotional toll of COVID-19," said Paula Baker, president and CEO of Freeman, in a statement.

The grant will be used to create a program called Urgent Behavioral Solutions, which will operate as a behavioral health urgent care center, said Vicky Mieseler, chief administrative officer of Ozark Center.

"It's kind of like a psychiatric urgent care," she said. "We've integrated primary care into the setting so we're addressing everyone's needs at once, hopefully for a better outcome."

The new operation could be up and running in four to six months' time, Mieseler said. Ozark Center staff members have a building in mind that will require some "minor things" in preparation, and some hiring and training of staff also will be needed, she said.

Mieseler said the opening of such an urgent care facility will be timely. While attempts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 mean that cases of the illness may have already peaked in some areas, mental health needs related to the coronavirus and its aftermath could last for another one to three years, she said.

"We're gearing up for things to get a lot more difficult for people and being there for them," she said.

Other locations receiving grant funding are Compass Health Inc. in Clinton, Preferred Family Healthcare Inc. in Kirksville, Burrell Behavioral Health in Springfield, and Places for People in St. Louis, according to U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, whose office announced the grants earlier this week.

"As health care providers continue responding to the coronavirus, making sure people have access to mental health and addiction treatment is more important than ever," Blunt said in a statement. "Behavioral health clinics have been successful in helping people get care faster and closer to home, with many now expanding their telehealth services. It’s important that they have the resources necessary to respond to the immediate public health crisis and address the long-term needs of the 1 in 5 Americans who are living with a mental or behavioral health issue."

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