March 29, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

For the last several years, Bannock County has been working to start a new behavioral crisis center. This next month all of the hard work put forward will pay off as the new South East Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center opens.

This crisis center will address the growing concerns over opioids, drugs, suicides, and other mental and behavioral issues people have been going to the hospital and jail for.

“Most of these people are not bad people. They are people who have had issues or problems,” explained Terrel “Ned” Tovey, a Bannock County Commissioner. “They end up going into jail by making a stupid mistake and they come out criminals and that’s not what we want to have happen.”

The crisis center will provide these individuals with the help and support for their immediate needs.

Tovey explained they will offer drug counseling, especially with non-violent offenders, mental health counseling, stabilization for suicidal individuals, and assessments. They will also partner with treatment courts so people can go through therapy and proper services to help them get back to a productive life.

Having the crisis center will help take pressure off of the hopitals and jails, Tovey said. When police have a suicidal case they can take them to the center instead of the emergency room.

To be clear, this center will be exclusively for adults. Tovey said there are rules in place that prevent juveniles and adults being in the same facility for some issues.

This crisis center will not just serve Bannock County. The counties involved in this project are Bear Lake, Oneida, Bingham, Caribou, and Franklin. The cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck are also involved along with the State Department of Health, Portneuf Health Trust, and Portneuf Medical Center.

Portneuf Health Trust actually purchased the building for the center. It is located right next to Pocatello City Hall. Tovey said this was a central location and close to most of the people who will use the center’s services.

The board for the center will consist of a medical doctor, a representative of law enforcement, county and city officials, members of the community, and someone who has received these kind of services themselves.

“Somebody who has actually had issues that they’ve taken care of to be part of that board to speak from that perspective,” Tovey said.

The tentative opening date for the center is April 15, with the hope that it will be able to start helping people immediately.

“It has been a very well received option by the community at large to be able to try and get people to where they don’t become a cost and burden society,” Tovey said. “We can help them work through their issues that they have at the time and then get them back to society so we don’t overburden our jails and our hospitals.”

Some criticism has been voiced. Some people think these kinds of offenders should just go to jail. But overall the support has outweighed any negativity.

“I’ve been really pleased with the community support for this and I look forward to it coming on line,” Tovey said.