City gives first round approval for triage study

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - City leaders, county leaders, health care officials -- they all agree Sioux Falls is dealing with a crisis when it comes to drug addiction and mental illness.

But treating this growing need will take more than the resources currently available.

The ER or a jail cell -- those are typically the places people dealing with mental illness or drug addiction end up.

"The fact of the matter is that we have folks who are trying to help their loved ones, their friend, their neighbor with an addiction issue or maybe a chronic mental health condition, and they just simply don't quite know how to navigate the system," Sioux Falls Public Health Director Jill Franken said.

Tuesday night, city council members took the first step to change that. They want to hire a consultant to develop a plan for a triage center in Sioux Falls.

Sanford Health and Avera Health will each put up $50,000 to pay for it.

"We all recognize the need for this triage center," Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

The consultants will help leaders develop a plan that works best for the needs of the community.

"Who actually staffs the facility, are those city employees, are they county employees, do we partner with a third party like we do with ambulance and hire an outside firm to run that service for the city," TenHaken said.

In 2017, KSFY News went to Las Vegas to show viewers a triage system that works. City and county leaders visited that facility. They think it could work in Sioux Falls.

"We know what we need to do to help people, we just have to have the right place for someone to be able to come to, to get that help that they need," Franken said.

And this is the next step to get them that help.

"We need to make sure we're getting people the right treatment, in the right way, and putting them on the right path to rehabilitation," TenHaken said.

The consultant study is not a done deal yet. It must pass a second reading before the city council.

That is scheduled for Feb. 19.