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Cook County To Expand Mental Health Treatment, Open Triage Center

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County has announced a plan to expand its mental health services, including a new triage center to ease crowding at Cook County Jail, and hoping to fill a void in behavioral health treatment after years of budget cuts and closures.

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System has launched a multi-pronged approach to what it calls "behavioral health services."

CCHHS Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Jay Shannon said the aim is to provide services for people before they have a major crisis, or end up at Cook County Jail.

"We are looking at the idea of further integration of the services that we have as a health care system. Again, you'll recall that includes our traditional health care provider network, including primary care," he said.


New services include a community triage center, where police officers can bring someone exhibiting behavioral problems, rather than taking them to jail.

"It would be open 24/7/365. It would be available for police to drop off an individual who's exhibiting unusual behavior, or minor criminal activity that they think – in their judgment – is related to either undiagnosed or untreated or undertreated behavioral health problems," Shannon said.

Staff there would be able to refer that person to the appropriate care.

The county also would set up a hotline of sorts, so providers helping people already in the county care program can find appropriate mental health services for them.

The plan also calls for more substance abuse programs, and a bigger network of health providers.

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