Addressing addiction and mental illness in Sioux Falls

Published: Mar. 30, 2018 at 11:15 PM CDT
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"Just over 60% of those almost 6,000 people that came through our doors are sober today. They are clean today. They are a reasonable, productive part of the community," WestCare Senior Vice President John Lee said.

The doors those people are walking into are a community triage center in Las Vegas, owned by WestCare.

It is the culmination of a city, county, state and private partnerships to create a one stop shop for people who are suffering from addiction.

In November, we first told you this kind of triage center is something Sioux Falls City and Minnehaha County leaders are hoping to implement in Sioux Falls.

It has taken 16 months of collaboration and effort, but this idea, is getting closer to becoming a reality.

"It's all starting to come together," Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said.

Milstead says he is thrilled to see the community triage center idea moving forward.

"I think it's probably one of the best things to come along in my career in law enforcement as far as being optimistic about being able to positively impact people's lives," he said.

They are inspired by what Las Vegas has done.

Project team is currently working on a plan to draft what this idea could look like when it becomes a reality, which could be sooner rather than later.

"I’m very optimistic. I'm excited about probably have a pilot started by the end of year," Milstead said.

The CTC in Las Vegas is a one-stop-shop for people suffering from addiction or mental health problems.

"Coordinate existing services to target sometimes populations that are the highest risk," Milstead said.

Some of the services that could be provided in Sioux Falls may include detox, medical services and programming to help people with addiction.

One of the health care partners in the project is the Carroll Institute.

"I've got to applaud them for this effort. It's the right thing to do," Executive director Gary Tuschen said.

Tuschen says currently there can be a delay between the time people ask for help and when they receive services in the community.

“Idle time for these individuals is not in their best interest,” he said.

And this could provide a solution to that problem.

“Sioux Falls has a robust network of support services and now we're all sitting down in the same room talking about what we all can do together, that's the exciting part,” he said.

The community triage center is a community effort and it is also going to take the entire community to foot the bill.

Sheriff Milstead says the city, the county, the state, and even hospitals are all looking at helping to fund portions of the project.