Iowa City mental health services center helps more than 1,000 people in first year

The center offers a new solution for adults in crisis for brain health or substance use.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:44 AM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Within just one year of being open, the GuideLink Center in Johnson County has been able to merge the community and medical-based models that comes with treating mental health, addiction, and brain health.

“We offer 24/7 mental health and substance use services, and immediate access to those services,” said Executive Director Abbey Ferenzi.

In less than 365 days, she and the rest of the team at GuideLink have seen the center grow in more than one way.

“We started off just taking referrals from local law enforcement and the Mobile Crisis Team. But by July 1, we opened to 24/7 walk-in services,” said Ferenzi.

By the time it reached the six-month mark, it opened a new extension to the center -- the sobering unit.

“This could be a jail alternative for local law enforcement. If they encounter someone that doesn’t really need to go to jail, they don’t necessarily think they need a public intox ticket, but they need somewhere safe for them to be. Before it was either the ER, or nowhere,” said Ferenzi.

The number of clients they have reached showed growth as well.

“We started off with 30, 40, 50 walk-ins starting in July and August. We jumped, from December to January, from 68 walk-ins to 109 walk-ins,” said Ferenzi.

And they are already planning for that number to grow even more in the next year.

“In this last year we’ve served over 1,000 individuals and admitted almost 900,” Ferenzi said. “I’m hoping in this next year we could increase that by 50 percent.”

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