July 19, 2023, Health Care Designs: Center For Children’s Integrated Services Brings Together Autism, Mental Health Services In Flint, Mich https://healthcaredesignmagazine.com/projects/genesee-health-system-center-for-childrens-integrated-services-brings-together-autism-mental-health-services/
Public mental health provider Genesee Health System (GHS; Flint, Mich.) was operating its children’s mental health services from three separate buildings at different locations in Flint due to growth and expansion of services.
This set-up created barriers for families who had to navigate different services and programs. “Although not every child had to go to all three places, we looked at it as disrespectful to individuals who might have had transportation challenges,” says Danis (Dan) Russell, chief executive officer at GHS.
Pediatric mental health services on the rise
Demand for children’s mental health services had also increased in the community over the years, exacerbated even more with the pandemic and the 2014 Flint water crisis that caused harmful effects of lead exposure, particularly in children, with autism being one of the leading outcomes.
A desire to serve as a one-stop shop for Genesee County families and mental health services, as well as anticipation for growing demand for children’s services, led GHS to think about a new location.
GHS’s initial plan was to rent a larger, existing building to colocate services as well as have room to expand its offerings, including adding a federally qualified health center (FQHC) for primary care services.
However, in August 2020, GHS received private and public funding to support building a facility designed for its specific needs. Soon after, the organization engaged HED, a Detroit-based integrated architecture, engineering, and planning firm, to begin planning and design on a new facility in Flint.
Unifying children’s behavioral health services
Opened in September 2022, the new $23 million Center for Children’s Integrated Services brings together all of GHS’s core behavioral health programs, including the Neurological Center for Excellence, Child and Family Services, and the Children’s Autism Center.
The facility also houses the new FQHC and Community Outreach, which includes child case management services and a mental health mobile clinic.
“The driving objective was to create a building that’s designed for kids and where everyone—kids, family, and staff—feel that they are worth the effort, are important, and matter,” Russell says….