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Milwaukee Board of Supervisors push for new mental health facility

By Joe Lanane

Members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors announced Friday that a resolution will be considered next month to build a new state-of-the-art mental health facility on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa.

The building would serve as a replacement to the current Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, which has endured scrutiny to the point that John Chianelli, director of the Behavioral Health Division, was demoted on Wednesday. County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said the modernized facility is a necessary upgrade.

“The care of individuals with mental illness is near and dear to my heart,” Holloway said. “The County Grounds is the most logical location to provide this specialized care, and I am pleased that the Board has come together for the sake of our residents who need the help most.”

There is already $10.8 million allotted for planning, design and construction of a new facility, and Holloway said the proposed resolution would also create a subcommittee that will oversee the process.

Holloway was joined by County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Jim Schmitt, Theo Lipscomb, John Weishan, Lynne De Bruin, Gerry Broderick, Johnny L. Thomas, Chris Larson, Nikiya Harris, Willie Johnson Jr. and Mark Borkowski as sponsors for the resolution.

County Supervisor Patricia Jursik said in a statement that any financial efforts to improve BHD should instead go toward improved patient care. She said the reduced amount of resources at the existing facility has led to the recent “mental health crisis.”

She said such recommendations were already approved by the Mental Health Community Advisory Board, by supervisors and by County Executive Scott Walker. Jursik said the Public Policy Forum will also issue a report on improving long-term patient care.

“It is a mistake to force decisions before we get this input,” Jursik said. “I decline to join my colleagues in this premature resolution to construct a new hospital building without knowing what the care model will be.”

Holloway said the resolution should go through committee next month and be available for a full county board vote as early as Sept. 30.

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