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New Mental Health Crisis Center Opening In Polson

Lake House offers behavioral health crisis stabilization and care in Polson.
Eric Whitney
Lake House offers behavioral health crisis stabilization and care in Polson.

  There was a ribbon-cutting for a new mental health crisis center in Polson today.

Governor Steve Bullock praised dozens of local dignitaries and community members at Lake House, a new eight-bed facility across the street from St. Joseph Hospital in Polson.

"Thank you for the good work that you’ve done, thank you for letting me be a part of it," Bullock said to applause.

The $1.7 million facility will give people in mental health crisis somewhere to go. It's sorely needed in Lake County, said Patty Kent, with the Western Montana Mental Health Center, which is running the facility.

Without Lake House, Kent said, "the options are a sheriff at the door, the local emergency room, a friend,  [or] a family member, trying to help that person calm themselves and stabilize."

Too often, Kent said, people who need acute mental health help would be locked in a police car and driven 200 miles to the state hospital at Warm Springs.

It took years of work by state lawmakers, the Lake County commissioners and sheriff, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, among others to build Lake House.

Kevin Howlett is the health director for the Tribes.

"Behavioral health doesn’t have racial boundaries," Howlett said. "When somebody’s in a crisis, they’re in a crisis, and it just makes sense that we pull all our resources together to address the issue at hand, which is the crisis."

Kent says she thinks the level of collaboration is unprecedented among other mental crisis centers in the state.

Other funders include Providence Health and Services and its Providence Montana Health Foundation, the greater Polson Community Foundation and the Lake County Community development foundation.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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