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Posted on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Washtenaw County's mental health treatment centers moving to urban Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti

By Amy Biolchini


The Washtenaw County Annex building at 110 N. Fourth Ave. in Ann Arbor.

Courtesy of Washtenaw County

Washtenaw County's treatment center for mentally ill adults is planning to move to more urban locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to gain better access to their client populations.

The move is one officials hope will mean that more individuals are able to access services that can help improve their health by creating go-to offices in centralized locations.

Washtenaw County’s Community Support and Treatment Services operates out of a county-owned building at 2140 E. Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township just south of Interstate 94. It’s located in an auto-centric corridor—though there’s a bus stop in front of the building.

The present model of service delivery isn’t as effective as it could be, CSTS Director Trish Cortes said.

After an intensive planning process with county officials, CSTS is planning to move teams of case managers, nurses, prescription administrators, therapists, psychologists and medical students to the county’s Annex facility at 110 N. Fourth Ave. in Ann Arbor. There is no timeline set as to when the move will happen.

At the Annex, CSTS will join Project Outreach (PORT), the Washtenaw Housing Alliance and the Office of Community and Economic Development.


Washtenaw County's Community Support and Treatment Services at 2140 Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township.

Amy Biolchini |

A number of teams will also be moving to the county’s Human Services building at 555 Towner St. in Ypsilanti to better serve the client population in the urban area. The Towner Street building houses a number of human services departments, including Public Health and several adult mental health treatment programs.

CSTS provides a number of mandated services—case management, clinical treatment, jail diversion, nursing home treatment and housing services for adults and children with developmental disabilities and serious, persistent mental illness—as well as a discretionary service: help for homeless individuals with mental illness or a co-occurring disorder.

CSTS received an annual budget of about $28.7 million in 2013, second only to the sheriff’s office. Its budget was increased to $41.8 million for 2014.

It has the second-largest departmental staff in the county of about 270 employees, again, second only to the sheriff’s office. The Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of 39 additional employees this spring to meet a growing demand for services.

The department has not received any money from the county’s general fund since 2011, putting more of the obligation on the Washtenaw Community Health Organization.

In 2012, about 2,279 mentally ill adults were seen by CSTS.

About 80 percent of those adults that receive treatment from CSTS are from urban areas: 30 percent are from Ann Arbor and 50 percent are from Ypsilanti, Cortes said. The remaining 20 percent are from western Washtenaw County.

There’s a population of homeless individuals that circulate regularly through downtown Ann Arbor for free meals and other services, said Dr. Tim Florence, medical director for CSTS. People seeking a housing solution or help with their substance abuse issues tend to gravitate to the Annex, Cortes said.

“When someone shows up at the Annex and says ‘I need help,’ it’s the perfect time to engage someone,” Cortes said.


Washtenaw County's Human Services building at 555 Towner St. in Ypsilanti.

Amy Biolchini |

When they stop by the Annex to seek help, county staff can provide them with a set number of services to refer them to affordable housing organizations—but to get people mental health and substance abuse treatment they need, they would have to be referred to the Ellsworth Road facility about four miles away.

The distance can be a deterrent for individuals that decide to seek help, Florence said.

“We wanted the people we were serving to know they could just walk in,” Florence said.

People are often faced with the decision of whether they want to miss a free lunch in order to see their doctor, Cortes said.

CSTS staff are working to make the Towner Street facility even more of a drop-in location in the way that people use the Annex in Ann Arbor. In the past year and a half, the drop-in rate of people seeking help at Towner Street has increased by 40 to 45 percent, Cortes said.

About 90 to 95 percent of CSTS clients use public transit to get to the Ellsworth Road facility, Cortes said. Some of the clients have personal vehicles, while others are driven by friends or family members.

To accommodate patients that drive to CSTS, Cortes said the county has worked out an arrangement with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority for vouchers for patients to use in a parking garage nearby the Annex building.

Moving the services closer to where patients live in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti should also reduce the amount of travel time for clients, Cortes said.

CSTS is also working to move primary care doctors to the Annex in Ann Arbor to be able to help address physical health issues

Individuals treated by CSTS often have multiple chronic conditions—like diabetes or COPD—in addition to possible substance abuse issues and mental health problems, Florence said.

In order for CSTS to move in to the Annex building, several departments will have to move out first in to new office space: the county's Public Defender Offices and the Office of Infrastructure Management. County commissioners gave their initial stamp of approval for those departments to use leased space in Dahlman Properties' City Center building at 220 E. Huron St. in Ann Arbor.

The move of adult mental health treatment services will leave the Ellsworth facility open for a new county department to move in: Youth and Family services, which provides behavioral and mental health treatment.

The switch is one Cortes and Florence said is much needed: Youth and Family services operates out of a building at the county’s Hogback Road facility, where the county jail and probate court are located.

As most of the individuals that receive behavioral health treatment through the Youth and Family program have been through some sort of traumatic life event, Cortes said it’s not helpful to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health treatment by locating the program next to the jail.

View Community Support and Treatment Services locations in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Lake Trout

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

Oh my! What goes around, comes around. Back in the 70's the Crisis Walk-In Clinic was located on S 4th across from the Capital Market and 110 N.4th was the Downtown Club (flop house). It wasn't thought that enough of the population was being served in the S. 4th location and the office was moved to South Industrial in the complex with the laundrymat, then evolved into CSTS or whatever combination of public health is serving this population. Now the County is spending money to move this service back downtown to better serve the population...imagine that and in the building that was formerly the flophouse! Wow...


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

LOL Mental health is moving back to 110 N. 4th where their offices were once located and in the area where the Crisis Clinic had its location. Did anyone ask the clients if they were OK with the change? Mental health was decentralized in the early days and the Chelsea office was in the Chelsea hospital so as to forge a partnership with their physicians. At least now they have the autonomy to make these types of decisions since they don't receive general fund monies.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

It's a bad move. Most clients -- who live on the east end of A2 and Ypsi anyway...will not choose to access the difficult parking and crappy handicap access of the overused and overcrowded Annex. The downtown is not the place of residence for most CSTS clients anymore...maybe in the 1990's, but no more. Most clients get their services at the respective Miller Manor and Delonis centers anyway. This move just screws clients that drive or live anywhere but downtown only helps the homeless and downtown indigent, but screws everyone else.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:29 a.m.

I believe you are right Goofus. The Ellsworth location does serve clients from all over the county. My concern is exposing the Youth and Family program to the programs that will stay at the Ellsworth after the adult mental health services are moved to the new location.

David Cahill

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

I was at the Annex on Friday. Signs were posted directing CSTS clients to the Port office on the first floor.

Elijah Shalis

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

What about the parking situation?

Elijah Shalis

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Thank you Amy. I am a client/patient of theres and moved into apartments near their current location cause it was easy to drive to.

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

CSTS administration staff told me they've worked out an arrangement with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority for use of one of the parking garages downtown. Clients who park in the garage will be given a pass to get out of the garage for free.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Good move to a centralized location. Question to Amy B: I see that a comment was deleted from this thread by a "user who has been blocked by the staff." My question is why a user who has been blocked can post anything at all? If a user is blocked, how can they still make posts? Would appreciate an explanation. Thank you.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Thanks, Kyle.

Kyle Mattson

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

It's just a spammer JRW, and the system takes a while to enforce the complete block.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Is there any change to the internal cost of running this program due to this move? Are they paying more? The same? They own the building or will pay rent? Dollar amounts?


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Thanks Amy. Wow, that's a lot of money for just shuffling around. It don't seem like the economy's getting much better when these tax-funded programs have to spend a third more to serve the increase in people needing help. Who's doing better?

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

The budget increase is due to the hiring of 39 staff members that CSTS administration said was necessary to meet the number of clients they were seeing. Both the Annex and the Ellsworth Road facility are county-owned buildings. Moving CSTS to the Annex will require some renovations that are included in the county's $5.5 million budget for moving all of its departments around this year. Full list of projects here:

Jay Thomas

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

It looks like they increased the budget by a third in a single year. It's difficult to say this is "well run."

AA Neighbor

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Great! Another reason to avoid downtown Ann Arbor. Will there be additional police on the street in that area?

Robert E.

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

AA Neighbor your comment is insulting and is likely an attempt to elicit angry you know anyone with a mental illness? Do you know how challenging it is to navigate one's life with a severe and persistant mental illness? Im sure those of us who enjoy downtown are much happier with people like yourself staying away...


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

the services will have hours.....usually closed after five...but will there be evenings/weekends.......more risk for the clients actually during times that alcohol consumption surges around town. I think the clients getting services are attempting to get "Help". The not so subtle idea you are putting forth about this in downtown really is fair in some ways.....but I think it's the reverse-the client is given more complicated cues in this location. there might be some effects one way or the other.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

AA - Are you suggesting this move will bring more homeless, drug addicts and drunks to your neighborhood? :) lol

Jim Mulchay

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

The reasons for moving to "downtown" locations sound reasonable; The reasoning for moving "Youth and Family services" seems a little weaker, but I'll give a pass on that - But what is the potential transportation issues for the clients of the "Youth and Family services" at the new (Ellsworth) locations?

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

Youth and Family services is in a building on the same campus as the Washtenaw County Jail on Washtenaw Avenue, so the move to Ellsworth isn't entirely a change in transportation mode. There's a dedicated bus stop for the county's building on Ellsworth that Youth and Family services will be moving in to.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

Of course, when we complained about the proposed homeless shelter in the Ellsworth location, everyone, including the A2News, accused us of the "NIMBY" mentality for not wanting the homeless out of the city on a minimal bus line where no other services were available. The County wanted decentralized services. Now they are backtracking again wanting centralized services downtown and are going to waste more tax dollars moving services where they should have been all along; in the central area where people are and can walk to services they need. So much for clear thinking on part of County officials.

Amy Biolchini

Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

There's a plan in place to validate parking for clients of CSTS at one of the nearby parking garages so clients won't have to pay.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

The arguments about the location of the services (and attempts to locate the shelter) on Ellsworth were clearly a smoke screen at the time. I do think this is a good move for a number of reasons. I am hoping that there will be parking available/provided/subsidized for the clients who will need to drive to the new location.


Mon, Aug 19, 2013 : 10:18 a.m.

Great! Located where it should be, accessible, and central. Good move.