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Almost ready

Johnson County’s GuideLink Center for behavioral health crises is on track to open next month
Johnson County’s GuideLink Center, a one-stop clinic for people in an acute behavioral, mental or substance abuse crisis, is in the final stages of completion and is expected to open early next month.

IOWA CITY– The GuideLink Center, Johnson County’s access center for people in acute behavioral crises, is on track to open early next month, according to project manager Matt Miller.
Miller presented a progress report to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors during its informal meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17. Miller put the project at 95 percent complete with an anticipated substantial completion date of Saturday, Jan. 2.
Substantial completion, he said, means “It’s good enough for us to take over the building and be able to perform the duties that we expect to perform in the building.” Construction, he said, was to be mostly done by Dec. 24 and he expected the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to be full of workers cleaning up items on the punch list (a document prepared near the end of a project detailing work not up to contract specifications, incorrect or incomplete installations, damage to fixtures, material or structures, paint touch-up’s, etc.). The final hurdle for the project, he said, was the final occupancy inspection to be performed by the City of Iowa City.
Miller also reported approximately $8.5 million had been spent on the project with $9.07 million in funding secured from sources including appropriations from cities within the county. GuideLink also was the recipient of a $22,000 comprehensive grant from the East Central Region (a nine-county partnership for mental health and disability services) as well as $19,000 in CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) mini-grant funding.
The facility has been five years in the making and is the final piece of a multi-faceted approach to revamping the care and treatment of people suffering from acute mental illness, behavioral issues or intoxication in Johnson County. The process began in 2015 when Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputies began taking Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training in San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio developed a comprehensive program, which included a stand-alone “access center” for such crises to avoid overloading area hospital emergency departments as well as to provide a diversion from incarceration in local jails. Often, neither facility is the most appropriate source of treatment and management for these particular cases.
Jessica Peckover, the former Jail Alternatives Coordinator for Johnson County, led the charge for implementing CIT training and developing a similar facility to provide specialized care on a short-term basis. The goal of the facility, now known as the GuideLink Center, she said in a 2017 interview, is to get people connected with the appropriate services, and especially to cut down on utilizing less effective and high-cost services, which aren’t able to solve people’s problems.
The county purchased the site (located at 300 Southgate Ave. in Iowa City, near the Waterfront Drive Hy-Vee store) in 2018 for $1,350,000 with Supervisor Janelle Rettig opposed due to the site being approximately 1,400 feet east of the Iowa River, and in the 100-year flood plain. Rettig objected to building in a flood plain, even with the structure being built above the 500-year flood level, citing climate change bringing additional flooding to the area, and the raised structure’s impact on flooding downstream.
Originally the facility was named the “Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center” or “BHUCC.” It was officially named The GuideLink Center early in 2020.
Merit Construction of Cedar Rapids is the primary contractor while Neumann-Monson Architects of Iowa City designed the facility.
More information about the GuideLink Center can be found online at https://guidelinkcenter.org/.