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Northern Idaho Crisis Center reports busy first year, 1,000+ clients

Don Robinson, of the Northern Idaho Crisis Center, talked about the facility’s one-year anniversary. The center was started to keep people with acute mental health and addiction issues out of the emergency room and jail. (Kathy Plonka/SR photo)
Don Robinson, of the Northern Idaho Crisis Center, talked about the facility’s one-year anniversary. The center was started to keep people with acute mental health and addiction issues out of the emergency room and jail. (Kathy Plonka/SR photo)

The Northern Idaho Crisis Center is reporting a busy first year, with more than 1,000 client visits since the doors opened last December. The center provides help for people who are experiencing crises related to mental health issues and substance abuse. The state-funded crisis center is Idaho’s second. It opened in Coeur d’Alene to serve Idaho’s 10 northern counties after local law enforcement, health officials and community leaders lobbied for it. A similar center opened in Idaho Falls in 2014; you can read our full story here from S-R reporter Becky Kramer.

People can stay at the center for up to 24 hours, but the average length of stay is seven hours. In most cases, clients are able to return home with a safety plan and a referral to a therapist, said Don Robinson, the center’s executive director and a retired FBI agent. When a suicidal patient needs to be admitted to the hospital, Kootenai Health’s emergency room is just across the parking lot. Kootenai Health contracts to run the facility, and the Panhandle Health District and Heritage Health are partners in the project.

Over time, local officials hope the crisis center will help reduce suicide rates in North Idaho, which rank among the highest in the nation.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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