Recent events have resulted in discussions on how to minimize police involvement in more situations, and a new grant will help the Battle Creek area community do just that. Calhoun County has been given a four year, $2.3 million federal grant for outpatient treatment of some of its mentally ill citizens.

Summit Pointe will coordinate and implement the Calhoun County Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program (CC-AOT). Mental health professionals will work in tandem with the Calhoun County Probate Court, as a result of “Kevin’s Law”. The law allows a court to order “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” for people with mental illness who are “least able to help themselves or most likely to present a risk to others.”

Summit Pointe CEO Jeannie Goodrich says they have identified about 75 cases in Calhoun County that they’ll work with during the first year. “The goal is to decrease law enforcement contact, reduce in-patient hospitalizations and the incidence and duration of psychiatric hospitalization”, said Goodrich. “We will strive to reduce homelessness, incarcerations, and interaction with the criminal justice system while improving the health and social outcomes of individuals with serious mental illness and their families”.

Goodrich says Summit Pointe will hire several people to form a specialized team to coordinate and focus on mentally ill patients with persistent symptoms and provide a safety net for them. For example, she says, making sure patients are taking their medicines as prescribed, and trying to make sure they are not abusing illegal drugs.

One feature of the grant is the participation of the Calhoun County Probate Court in periodic reviews of those under a court order for AOT. According to Calhoun County Courts Chief Judge Mike Jaconette, “the recent changes to Michigan’s Mental Health Code provide an opportunity for probate courts to address treatment petitions for those with serious mental illness before reaching a crisis stage. By focusing on effective community-based treatment services that will be augmented through this grant, I hope that inpatient hospitalizations in Calhoun County will decrease and that we will also witness a reduction in criminal justice system involvement by those who, with the assistance of this program, may be better able to manage their mental health needs.”

National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Calhoun County has long supported the goal of having effective assisted outpatient treatment programming in our community. “We believe CC-AOT will go a long way toward reducing the number of people with serious mental health conditions in our area who get caught in the revolving door of hospitalization and incarceration because they are unable to recognize they need treatment,” said Gini Haffner, President of NAMI Calhoun County.

Calhoun County is quickly moving forward to improve access to care and achieve positive outcomes through community collaborative initiatives, Goodrich added. In April, Summit Pointe received an additional SAMSHA grant to implement a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) to expand access and improve the quality of mental health and substance use disorder treatment services in Calhoun County. The CC-AOT program will continue to strengthen the community collaborative and initiatives being built with CCBHC and achieve improved system-wide changes as a result of the implementation of these grants.

The CC-AOT grant was written in partnership with Grace Health, Bronson Battle Creek, Oaklawn Hospital, Central Michigan University (evaluator), Calhoun County Probate Court, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, Battle Creek Police Department, Marshall Police Department, and Huron Potawatomi Police Department.

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