New Help for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness

Jody Abbott

Jody Abbott, Senior VP & COO

To help meet the needs of the underserved population of people with substance use disorders and mental illness, North Kansas City Hospital joined a consortium that is launching the Kansas City Assessment-Triage Crisis Center. “Hospitals spend significant dollars on ‘revolving door’ healthcare for this patient population. It’s a complex issue,” said Jody Abbott, Senior V.P. and COO of North Kansas City Hospital. “If someone has a single or dual diagnosis of SUD and MI, you can’t just treat the acute issue. There has to be long-term intervention.”

KC-ATC, located at 2600 East 12th St., Kansas City, MO 64127, is scheduled to open Fall of 2016, will be managed by ReDiscover, an organization dedicated to helping people who are struggling with substance dependency. It will offer 16 client openings, eight each for SUD and MI. Within 23 hours of referral, KC-ATC will assess clients, determine their Medicaid eligibility, offer brief treatment intervention and connect them with behavioral health agencies. At full operation, the facility anticipates handling nearly 6,000 visits annually. Referrals will be accepted from two sources:

  • Kansas City police and fire departments
  • Participating hospitals’ Emergency Departments

Future phases may include walk-in clients, court-ordered involuntary commitment and physician referrals.

Data from the Missouri Hospital Association indicates Kansas City area hospital EDs experience more than 8,000 substance use disorder-only cases and more than 9,000 mental illness-only diagnoses per year. Many do not require acute medical intervention. Police officers will be able to avoid the ED by taking these individuals straight to the KC-ATC, where the system is designed for assessment and triage.

KC-ATC clients will receive counseling, necessary medications, housing (if homeless), meals, job placement (if unemployed) and respite services while they rehabilitate their lives. Before becoming a KC-ATC client, candidates must sign a contract stating they will attend counseling, take their prescribed medication and abstain from using illegal drugs or alcohol. If they cannot uphold the contract, they will face jail time.

Trended Yearly ED Visits

Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the United States, has pledged $2 million per year for five years. “It is difficult to get funding to assist people with mental health issues and people who are homeless. This population often experiences underserved healthcare needs their entire lives,” Abbott said. “We are very pleased that Ascension has stepped forward.” Area hospitals will contribute an additional $1 million a year for two years to KC-ATC. After it has been in operation for one year, the program will be evaluated. If successful, Phase 2 will develop a similar program in eastern Jackson County.