POCATELLO — A contractor hired to run the community’s forthcoming South East Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center has hired a director and an assistant director and started interviewing Tuesday to fill 25 more positions to staff the facility.
Bannock County has chosen Rehabilitative Health Services, based in Idaho Falls, to implement and operate the facility, which will provide 24-hour mental health assistance for people in crisis. The staff will also include case managers who will help clients develop plans and access other services in the community for long-term help.
Matt Hardin, 33, who has worked for Gateway Counseling Center in Pocatello for the more than seven years, specializing most recently in mental health and substance abuse, has been selected as director. Myrna Daniels, who has 23 years of experience in the mental health industry, will be assistant director.
The facility is scheduled to open in April in a building that the Portneuf Health Trust recently purchased from Idaho Farm Bureau. The building is located in the same business plaza as Pocatello City Hall.
“We have had an opportunity to get to know the folks from RHS and feel they are a great choice,” said Shaun Menchaca, president and CEO of Portneuf Health Trust. “They are extremely collaborative and want what’s best for the community.”
RHS opened the crisis center in Idaho Falls in December of 2014, modeled after a similar facility in Billings, Montana. RHS created a secondary company, called Behavioral Enhancement Services and Treatment, LLC, to oversee the Pocatello operations.
DeVere Hunt, contract manager for RHS and owner of BEST LLC, explained the local facility will be staffed at all hours by a nurse or paramedic, a psychiatric technician who will also be charged with ensuring clients are comfortable and a security officer. Bachelor’s-level case managers will staff the facility for 16 hours each day. If a client remains in crisis after 24 hours is up, they may be reevaluated and admitted for a second stay.
Hunt said the state Legislature authorized $1.5 million per year to cover the first two years of daily operations, utilities and salaries to run the facility, as well as $200,000 for remodeling and start-up costs. Bannock County will manage the funding but won’t be on the hook for costs, aside from man hours associated with the fiduciary oversight.
Hunt expects to conduct roughly 100 interviews during the next month to fill 25 jobs. Anyone interested in applying may call Myrna Daniels 208-821-1790, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunt said people people often end up in jails when their primary issues are with mental illness. Others find help in a medical environment when they’d be better served by a therapeutic environment, he said.
“Gov. (Butch) Otter and the Department of Behavioral Health were trying to figure out a better way to provide treatment for mental illness and substance abuse disorders than landing in jails and emergency rooms across the state,” Hunt said.
Hardin has been shadowing the staff at the Idaho Falls center for the past few weeks. He’s a graduate of Idaho State University and Walden University. He’s worked with local probation and jail personnel and underwent a six-month internship with Portneuf Medical Center’s Behavior Health unit.
“These are all great programs, but we were missing something,” Hardin said. “Being able to spearhead this program, I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Hardin said the facility should have life-changing effects in the lives of local people. In Idaho Falls, he said clients frequently state in exit surveys that they would likely be on the streets or dead without the service.
“It’s something that’s very much needed in the community,” added Daniels, who earned a bachelor’s in psychology from ISU. “It will be a great resource for many. I’m excited to be a part of that.”