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Aurora Behavioral Health Center

What? Scheduled for completion in April 2023, the Aurora Behavioral Health Center will further expand Bartlett’s comprehensive, integrated approach to addressing urgent mental health needs by providing the first crisis residential center for youth and adults in Southeast Alaska.

Fully staffed and operational, the center will offer 24/7 crisis care with 8-beds serving youth and adults. It is anticipated that both 23-hour crisis observation and stabilization, as well as crisis residential services for up to 7 days will be available. The center will work directly with numerous community partners, in addition to the hospital’s Emergency Department, Adult Mental Health Unit, Bartlett Outpatient Psychiatric Services, Rainforest Recovery Center, and existing Crisis Intervention Services to strengthen the community’s crisis response framework, specifically adapting core elements of the Crisis Now model for Southeast Alaska. Based on current numbers, the center is expected to maintain a patient capacity of 85 percent or greater.

Why? BRH recognizes our community’s critical need for expanded behavioral health care services. From 2020 to 2021 alone, Bartlett saw a 33% increase in individual behavioral health patients served across all age ranges, most significantly in our 21-50 year old patients. On average, more than 1,400 behavioral health visits occurred per month in 2021. Over 500 psychiatric assessments were completed in 2021 in the Emergency Department by psychiatric emergency services (PES) clinicians.

Who? There are currently no residential centers for crisis intervention in Southeast Alaska for youth and adults with urgent mental health needs. Youth who present at Bartlett are currently admitted to Bartlett’s medical unit until transport out of the community can be arranged to a more appropriate setting. Developing a crisis stabilization program that specifically serves our youth population will help to reduce the number of youth experiencing a behavioral health crisis who must leave the community and be away from their family during treatment. Through the crisis stabilization program, the services are designed to better assist families during a crisis and can be arranged from a one-time intervention or an extended period encompassing several years based on individual needs. The success of such a program is to ensure families are engaged in the care of youth and improve chances of success when the youth returns home. For adults, the center will provide the services necessary to stabilize individuals that do not require inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, and provide a step-down approach for adults discharging from the Mental Health Unit who are still in need of supports.

How? The Aurora Behavioral Health Center will be clinically staffed and psychiatrically supervised, providing nursing services and medication services. The primary goal is for prompt evaluation and/or stabilization of individuals presenting with acute symptoms or distress. Services will include a comprehensive assessment, behavioral health therapy, and crisis intervention services necessary to stabilize and restore the individual to a level of functioning that does not require inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.

Developing and implementing a comprehensive program model that provides wrap-around services will expand the impact exponentially from individual patients to entire families and communities within Southeast Alaska.

Facility Specs: The crisis center is being constructed by Dawson Construction and will house three service floors and basement parking. In addition to crisis stabilization and observation services, the center will be the new home for the Bartlett Outpatient Psychiatric Services clinic, which includes psychiatric evaluation, medication management, and therapy for adults and youth. The center will also house specialty behavioral health services and additional outpatient services as needed.