New Mental Health Emergency Center Opens – Key Element of Psychiatric Crisis Services Redesign in Milwaukee  

The new, joint venture Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC) opened its doors to voluntary and involuntary patients experiencing a mental health emergency on September 9. The MHEC is a historic, public-private partnership between Milwaukee County and the area’s four health systems–Advocate Aurora Health, Ascension Wisconsin, Children’s Wisconsin, and Froedtert Health.

The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services (BHS) hospital, located in Wauwatosa for more than 140 years, permanently closed its inpatient unit and emergency department on September 15, transitioning services to the new MHEC, Granite Hills Hospital, and other inpatient receiving facilities. Concurrently, BHS is expanding community-based services, including mobile crisis teams and crisis walk-in clinics co-located at select Federally Qualified Health Centers. This new model creates easier access to care and the expansion of crisis services.

“This public-private collaboration is unprecedented and would not be a reality without the shared commitment to this center and the transformation of the larger behavioral health delivery system,” said Shakita LaGrant-McClain, Executive Director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health & Human Services and MHCP leader. “Our no wrong door approach ensures residents are connected to individualized services regardless how they enter the system. MHEC is a critical piece of the overall crisis continuum, meeting residents where they are, given 70% of patients formerly served by Psychiatric Crisis Services live in close proximity to the new center.”

This transition to the state-of-the-art psychiatric emergency department marks the next phase in the redesign of the behavioral health system in the county, which began more than a decade ago.  The MHEC offers 24/7/365 crisis mental health assessment, stabilization, treatment, and transition care management for children, adolescents, and adults. The goal is for patients to receive timely treatment and transfer to the appropriate level of care.