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Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announces creation of diversion center to treat mental illness and addiction

The diversion center initially will be located at 55th & Euclid, operated by Orianna House, under the supervision of the ADAMHS Board.

CLEVELAND — Editor's Note: The above video aired on Wednesday, November 18, 2020.

On Friday, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and leaders from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health held a virtual media briefing to provide updates and data on the COVID-19 pandemic

However, Budish used much of his time to talk about a different health crisis in Cuyahoga County, mental illness and addiction. 

"Like COVID, it (mental illness) stealthily attacks, often destroying lives. But unlike the virus, there’s no vaccine cure on the horizon," Budish said. 

His answer for dealing with the mental health crisis was to announce the creation of a diversion center, a place for crisis intervention, stabilization and treatment of people with mental illness and addiction. The proposal for the center will be submitted to Cuyahoga County Council on Tuesday, asking for $9.2 million dollars.

"When police pick up someone suffering from mental illness or addiction, often for minor crimes like disturbing the peace, there’s often no good place to take them. So the police in many cases take them to jail," Budish stated. "Our jails have been the biggest repositories for people with mental illness and addiction. And yet, jails are not the best place for these folks to get treatment. Then to further shatter their lives, they wind up in the criminal system."

According to Budish, the diversion center initially will be located at 55th & Euclid, operated by Orianna House, under the supervision of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADAMHS) and should be open during the first quarter of next year. The county will evaluate sites for a permanent location.

The diversion center will have 50 beds and provide treatment for up to 9 days. Professionals will then provide referrals for longer term treatment to experienced community organizations.

"Police around the County will receive crisis training from the ADAMHS Board to identify people eligible for diversion and to de-escalate situations," Budish added. They'll also have access to a 24/7 phone line to answer questions and provide immediate advice to law enforcement."

Friday's briefing came after Cuyahoga County officials ordered a stay-at-home advisory that will last through December 17. The announcement was made during a joint meeting between the City of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Department of Health, led by Budish and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. 

"We are in the fight of our lives," said Budish during Wednesday's announcement. "More Ohioans have died of COVID-19 than in the Korean and Vietnam wars put together. And it’s getting worse every day."

This comes as COVID-19 cases in the Buckeye State continue to rise exponentially, and the county has experienced a recent unprecedented surge of hospitalized individuals.

The stay-at-home advisory asks all Cuyahoga County residents to stay home and avoid heading out for unnecessary trips. Those who live within the county are strongly advised to not host guests in their home over the next 28 days as well, and also avoid traveling outside of the state.

Churches, banquet facilities and rental halls are also required “to continue to implement all virus transmission prevention protocols and are advised to limit the number of individuals in attendance to ensure safe distancing at all regular services, receptions and events such as weddings or funerals.”

All schools and universities that are currently using a hybrid of full in-person learning plan are advised to transition to online remote classes after Thanksgiving.

Private gatherings -- both indoor and outdoor -- are limited to no more than 10 individuals.

You can read the advisory below:

You can watch Friday's briefing, including the announcement of the creation of the diversity center in the player below: