The facility at 103 E. Moody Blvd. will provide an open door for county residents seeking behavioral health services.
The Flagler Access Center, which will provide an array of mental health services for Flagler County residents, officially opened Jan. 11 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the former Bunnell Branch Library building, 103 E. Moody Blvd.
The center will provide walk-in screening, crisis triage and outpatient treatment. It is the result of a public-private partnership between Flagler County, SMA Healthcare and Flagler Health+.
A public tour of the center followed the ribbon cutting.
"It will be the first place people will go to get help, ask questions and feel safe," said SMA Healthcare CEO Ivan Cosimi. "The Access Center will allow us to provide treatment for those who need it most."
"It will be the first place people will go to get help, ask questions and feel safe."
IVAN COSIMI, SMA Healthcare CEO
A $245,000 state appropriation to the county will pay for staffing at the facility for the first year. A $300,000 federal grant through the American Rescue Plan allowed the county to renovate the building and provide maintenance and additional services, County Administrator Heidi Petito said.
The renovation cost $180,000, Petito said, which will leave the county $120,000 to use as needed to support the center.
The 4,943-square-foot facility was a longtime coming, County Commission Chair Joe Mullins said, noting that Flagler County had the highest suicide rate in the state in 2017.
Sheriff Rick Staly said his office handles approximately three to five Baker Acts per shift and investigates a number of suicides.
“Addressing behavioral health issues – including drug abuse and the suicide rate – have been a priority,” Petito said.
Cosimi said SMA Healthcare will provide the Access Center with six staff members: two therapists, a screener, an outreach coordinator and two care coordinators. Flagler Health+ will provide youth mental health services.
The Flagler Access Center will have a crisis triage treatment unit, a group room, a urinalysis lab and a number of offices, said Alicia Vincent, SMA Healthcare's vice president of Flagler services.
The center will also connect clients to the federal housing program, PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness).
The actual opening will probably be next week when SMA Healthcare moves its staff from Justice Lane to the Flagler Access Center, Cosimi said.
The county will provide transportation for clients, which will remove barriers to treatment, said Flagler Health+ Executive Director John Eaton.
The center will also utilize social service providers within the county.
"There is no wrong-door approach," Cosimi said.
Cosimi said SMA Healthcare is already working in Tallahassee to get year two of the center funded.