Pennington County's new Care Campus ready to open

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- Pennington County's state of the art, one-stop shop to deliver behavioral health services is coming on line.

The county's Care Campus is scheduled to open later this month and we stopped by Wednesday for a sneak peak tour Wednesday with many of the professionals behind the project.

Years in the planning, the $14 million complex in the old American University building across the street from the Pennington County Courthouse on Kansas City Street has as its ambitious goal nothing short of revolutionizing how the county serves some of its neediest citizens.

"We are really setting the foundation for what communities can do, how we can partner together," said Barry Tice, the director of Pennington County's Health and Human Services. "And how we can create this essentially one stop shop that provides these services in an efficient manner and allows us to work with individuals and getting them connected to the right services at the right time."

The building will house detox, Safe Solutions, Crisis Care Center and Health and Human Services under one roof. And the campus's 42 Safe beds, six Isolation rooms and eight crisis care beds give law enforcement an option other than jail for citizens with mental health needs or substance abuse problems.

And gives everyone a chance of connecting with further services.

"We'll be able to walk down a hallway, or the counselor or the qualified mental health professional will be able to walk down a hallway," and see the citizen in need, said Willie Whelchel, chief deputy Pennington County Sheriff. "We'll be able to get all that right here in this building and that's going to be huge."

And Those are efficiencies that have been a long time in coming.

"I can recall I believe it was in the early 2000s where we were having these same conversations and likely those conversations were happening even before then about the various services we have in our community and how disjointed they are," said Alan Solano, chief executive of Behavior Management Systems. "So this facility really brings those services together under one roof which then allows the public, allows law enforcement, allows EMS under that one stop. Just get the person into the doors and let the professionals do the screenings and assessments that they need so we can get our public to the right services at the right time."

The new Care Campus was funded with help from the county, Rapid City and private donations and opens its door at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 24.