Alliance Healthcare Services is scheduled to break ground at 10 a.m. today on a $34 million Crisis Wellness Center, with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee in attendance.
The nonprofit focuses on providing mental health care to people in crisis. It works directly with first responders to help provide the care needed in those situations, assisting nearly 7,000 people per year.
Alliance estimated that its work, which totaled 21,000 cases, saved Shelby County $164 million annually by keeping people out of courts, hospitals, or prison.
The organization’s current crisis center location “isn’t adequate” for the community’s needs, according to Alliance CEO Laurie Powell. That center is located in a 17,000-square-foot second floor office space at 951 Court Ave. It has a makeshift entrance that is too small for emergency vehicles, very little sunlight, and not much room for key areas.
A welcoming space for care
Alliance’s leadership has been planning the 55,000-square-foot Crisis Wellness Center for two years now. The development in Binghampton will take up an entire block bordered by Broad Avenue. The idea is to build a place where mental health care looks different and to fight the stigmas usually attached to those health disorders.
“We started at $9 million,” Powell said. “We said a $9 million facility, then $12 million, but we didn’t really know. We went across the country, visited crisis units all over from California to Arizona. You name it, we went there. Everything was institutional, and I think [our development] really doesn’t have that feel. It looks like, ‘Please come in. You’re welcome here.’”
The new space to be located at 3206 Broad Ave., which was designed by brg3s architects, is colorful and bright, fitting right in among the Binghampton neighborhood where it resides. The center has outdoor space, large windows letting in lots of sunlight, and is designed to be welcoming to both those in crisis and their loved ones coming to see them.
The space takes Alliance’s number of beds from 27 to 45. It has an entire outpatient wing, with a clinic and 22 offices. There is a secure intake area large enough for emergency vehicles to come and go. Alliance’s staff can observe 24 people simultaneously across 15 assessment rooms. And the center has a dedicated waiting room and family and children’s space.
“It’s knowing that you have a place that is open 24/7, and we’re there for you,” Powell said. “I always keep saying, ‘No wrong door.’ Whomever needs help can come in and get the help. We’re not making you put a down payment on care or writing your insurance card. This is for the community. It’s for everyone and adding children and families was critical. I think a lot of the families who need help have their 9-to-5 [job] and [kids have] school. This will [allow for] open access to care and remove barriers to accessing care.”
Designed for growth
Alliance currently employs 450 people throughout the region, with plans to get to 500 by year’s end. At launch, its new facility will have 25 staff operating out of it, but it was designed with “growth in mind,” according to Powell. The project is being built by Turner Construction Co. and is scheduled to come online in Q1 2025.
Alliance provides crisis, housing, addiction, mental health, and child and family services. The group provides that care regardless of whether an individual is insured or not.
With its Crisis Wellness Center swelling from $9 million to $34 million in cost, the organization had to fundraise for the first time.
Alliance has already raised $21.5 million to build the center, with the funding coming from a variety of sources, including the State of Tennessee.
Mark Billingsley, who is executive director of the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, hopes to put together the remaining funds “as quickly as possible,” as Alliance is already looking toward the future.
“This is going to address so many issues under one roof. Everybody’s excited about it. But the work doesn’t stop here,” he said. “Alliance serves over 2,000 children a year, and we have some additional needs for the future. This is the most significant project in the history of Alliance, and it’s just the first step. There are some things that philanthropy can do to bridge the gap between what you can afford and what you can envision.”
This article was originally published at “bizjournals.com“