Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Emergency Mental Health Facility Planned for 12th and Walnut

Milwaukee County and four private partners plan new center.

By - Jan 21st, 2021 06:51 pm
Milwaukee County Mental Health Emergency Center draft rendering. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Milwaukee County Mental Health Emergency Center draft rendering. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Milwaukee County and four partners will develop a new mental health emergency center near the intersection of N. 12th St. and W. Walnut St. The county’s Behavioral Health Division is being joined in the project by Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Froedtert Health.

“It’s going to possess all of the needs of the community,” said area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II during a town hall meeting Thursday evening. He said it would bring jobs, beautify a vacant lot and provide needed health care. “Most importantly I’m grateful that this facility will provide access to care.”

It will replace the current facility at 9455 W. Watertown Plank Rd. in Wauwatosa.

The location is seen as one of the principal draws of a new facility. “We were told that the biggest barrier to care is our location,” said Michael Lappen, administrator of the Behavioral Health Division. He said the new location is near many of the people already being served. “You can only imagine how many more people would be served if they had this location close to home.”

Advocate Aurora will be the managing partner of the $12 million facility. The county will pay for half of the development costs.

Walter Lanier, pastor at Progressive Baptist Church and member of the county mental health board, said a new facility at a new location would reduce barriers to access and stigma associated with getting treatment.

All Milwaukee County individuals will be admitted and treated, regardless of ability to pay. “Everyone will get the care they need,” Lappen said. In 2019, the current facility served over 7,000 people.

“We believe this is the most cost-effective way to provide this service, but also the best way to provide therapy to both adults and children that need a high level of care,” said Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership.

“On their worst possible day, those in need can come to the mental health emergency center to get help in a humane way. It will be a community place of healing where residents will get the care and love that they deserve,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley in a press release when the partnership was announced in December.

Pete Carlson, president at Advocate Aurora Behavioral Health, said those needing Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) treatment services would be referred to other facilities. The facility will be licensed as a hospital, but “true medical services” will be sent to an emergency room.

“We don’t see people staying there for longer than 24 hours generally,” said Carlson. “At our current facility we do not discharge people to the streets,” said Lappen, noting individuals are connected with other service providers and often stay for only four hours. The facility would have eight observation beds, intended for short-term stays.

Eppstein Uhen Architects is designing the new 12,000-square-foot building. JCP Construction and CG Schmidt will build it.

David Groth, architect at Eppstein Uhen, said the facility would have two entrances, one for voluntary admission and one for involuntary admission. The latter would be shielded from public view. He said special design considerations were also being made, including window placement, to protect the privacy of those patients.

He said the facility would be located southwest of the intersection of N. 12th St. and W. Walnut St., and up the hill from the submerged W. Fond du Lac Ave. Milwaukee County owns a 6.5-acre parcel, 1227 W. Walnut St., bordered by W. Galena St., W. Cherry St., N. 12th St. and N. 13th St.

The new facility is expected to open in spring 2022.

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Emergency Mental Health Facility Planned for 12th and Walnut”

  1. SiddyMonty says:

    Yay. So many folks who need help…need it inside the City.

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