Public radio from Western Michigan University 102.1 NPR News | 89.9 Classical WMUK
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

An urgent care center for mental health will be a "game changer," providers say

A photo of the old Acme Bedding Company at 440 Kalamazoo Ave, taken from across the street.
Leona Larson
The future location of the Center for Behavioral Health Urgent Care and Access Center. The facility will be built at the site of the old Acme Bedding Company on Kalamazoo Avenue. The mural on the side of the building, "Polar Loneliness" was painted by Conrad Kaufman.

People experiencing mental health crises will have a new option for care next year. A facility offering immediate mental health care services is expected to open in downtown Kalamazoo in 2023.

Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (ISK) plans to build a 24-hour Behavioral Health Urgent Care and Access Center after the City of Kalamazoo recently approved the plans.

The Center will be built on the site of the old Acme Bedding Company on Kalamazoo Avenue. ISK says it will provide immediate mental health care around the clock.

Dianne Shaffer of ISK called the new facility a "game changer."

“What's different is that we are constructing a building that someone could walk into 24 hours a day, seven days a week and receive support for their mental health or substance abuse issue," she said.

Shaffer said ISK picked the location for two reasons: it already owns the property, and its central location means it will be accessible to lots of people.

“It's downtown. It's on the bus line. It's walking distance from some of our homeless shelters. It's walking distance from the bus transportation center,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer also said the facility will also help reduce mental health stigma in Kalamazoo.

“Knowing that there’s a place that you can just walk into any time of day or night and talk to somebody, I think is huge,” said Shaffer.

Construction will start in September. The new facility is expected to be open by June 2023.

Leona Larson (Gould-McElhone) was a complaint investigator with the Detroit Consumer Affairs Department when she started producing and co-hosting Consumer Conversation with Esther Shapiro for WXYT-Radio in Detroit while freelancing at The Detroit News and other local newspapers. Leona joined WDIV-TV in Detroit as a special project's producer and later, as an investigative producer. Today, she splits her time as a general assignment reporter at WMUK and a part-time journalism instructor for the School of Communications at Western Michigan University. Leona prefers to use her middle name on air because it's shorter and easier to pronounce.