• Treatment & Recovery Center

Introducing Behavioral Health Partners

Lawrence—At a recent Douglas County Commission meeting, Commissioner Karen Willey expressed an interest in learning more about Behavioral Health Partners (BHP). BHP is honored to take this opportunity to introduce itself to the citizens of Douglas County.

The Creation of Behavioral Health Partners

BHP was established in 2020 as a nonprofit partnership by two members, LMH Health (LMH) and the Bert Nash Center (BNC), for the purpose of providing leadership, clinical oversight, and operational management of the Treatment & Recovery Center (TRC), a facility committed to supporting individuals experiencing behavioral health crises. As detailed in BHP’s by-laws, which were endorsed by the Douglas County Commission with unanimous support on September 9th, 2020, BHP is its own independent nonprofit entity, governed by a nine-member board of directors, and LMH, BNC, and the Board of Douglas County Commissioners appoint three board members each.

BHP’s Board of Directors meets monthly with the mission of managing and operating the Treatment & Recovery Center through community support and collaboration. Currently, BHP’s Board of Directors includes: Cindy Yulich (Chair), Nancy Thellman (Vice Chair), Jason Hess (Treasurer), Patrick Schmitz, Dr. Ashley Bloom, and Kevin Harrell. Three additional board seats are currently vacant and awaiting nominations from each of the three partners within the next few weeks.

Treatment & Recovery Center Leadership Search

In the spring of 2021, Behavioral Health Partners began a search for an Executive Director and Medical Director to lead the management of the Treatment & Recovery Center. In November 2021, the BHP Board of Directors hired Dr. George Thompson to serve as Medical Director of the Treatment & Recovery Center; in February of 2022, Thompson was promoted to being both Medical and Executive Director of the new facility.

The Treatment & Recovery Center’s Readiness to Open

BHP’s governance structure was specifically designed to ensure strong partnerships between LMH, BNC, and Douglas County government, and BHP is prepared to collaboratively carry out the clinical, administrative, and governing tasks required to successfully operate Douglas County’s crisis center.

In the past six months, the BHP Board and TRC staff have made enormous progress towards this goal. BHP has hired and trained 43 staff members to work at the TRC. With substantial support from LMH staff, the TRC team has written 135 policies. Collaborative processes have been outlined with the BNC Mobile Response Team and the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters, which manage the Douglas County Crisis lines. Additionally, TRC leadership have made good progress in developing cooperative processes with the BNC intake department, the LMH Emergency Department, Douglas County Fire and Medical, the Lawrence Police Department, and the Douglas County District Courts and District Attorney’s office. These efforts culminated in the State of Kansas issuing BHP a private psychiatric hospital license to operate the TRC as a crisis center on October 11, 2022.

Behavioral Health Partners’ Transition

Now, BHP is in the midst of a transition from intensive involvement from founding leaders at the County, LMH, and BNC to a more sustainable and independent organizational structure. “The BHP Board recognizes that BHP and the TRC need to step into their own identity and governance in a way that supports the patients that the TRC will serve,” stated BHP Board Chair, Cindy Yulich. “With this in mind, LMH, BNC, and County leadership have all agreed that, while they will continue to nominate members to the BHP Board, they are committed to helping BHP gain the independence needed to exert its own authority and resolve its own challenges.”

As TRC Executive and Medical Director, Dr. George Thompson, asserted, “With support from LMH, BNC, and the County, the TRC is on track to begin operating as soon as possible. There are real people experiencing real suffering who need these important behavioral health services now, and we are dedicated to working with the County, LMH, BNC and our other partners to make this opening happen.”