Supporting vulnerable populations and community health

Panel sits at a table at Health Summit

In 2022, Johnson County Government leaders and staff continued to strongly and passionately implement the Board of County Commissioners’ priority to meet the needs of the county’s vulnerable populations. Departments and agencies worked together to provide services and supports to residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, those impacted by mental health challenges or in need of financial assistance, as well as older adults needing health, nutrition or other assistance to help them stay in their homes. Work continued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and new efforts were launched to move forward Public Health 3.0 in our community.

Moving forward through…

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-Talk Crisis Text Line 741741 JCMHC crisis line 9132680156

…adding resources for mental health service provision

The need for mental health services continues to rise in our community, but two major changes for Johnson County Mental Health Center in 2022 brought expanded services and additional resources to our county.

In July, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline transitioned to the easy-to-remember 988 dialing code to help those experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. As part of the national network, Johnson County Mental Health Center began receiving 988 calls from Johnson County phone numbers, ensuring that people in crisis could be connected to local resources. To help handle the increased call volume, the BOCC approved adding four full-time Crisis Call Specialists to the Mental Health Center’s dedicated 988 team.

Also in July 2022, JCMHC became a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. We are among the first Community Mental Health Centers in the nation to be a CCBHC without being part of a demonstration site or a federal expansion grant. Because of that certification, the BOCC approved 21 additional employees for the Mental Health Center, to be paid for by Medicaid contract revenues rather than county support. The new employees are critical to reducing caseloads for case managers and enhancing mental health services for all ages. CCBHCs are leading a bold shift across the nation to increase access to high-quality mental health and addiction treatment making a difference in the lives of thousands of individuals and communities across the nation.

Another mental health resource added for the community was the creation of a full-time clinician to be embedded at Johnson County Community College. The clinician, an employee of Johnson County Mental Health Center, is enhancing the services provided to students on campus through short-term therapy, crisis intervention and connections to community resources.

Elderly adults in the CHAMPSS Program dine at a table at IHOP

…doing more for our older adults

The Johnson County Aging and Human Services department was pleased to receive federal grant funding of more than $1.6 million in 2022 that will all be utilized to make life better for the county’s older adults. The funding was allocated for home delivered meals, congregate meals, supportive services, family caregiver support, disease prevention/health promotion, as well as a full-time information and assistance specialist to help clients access services, including In-Home and Nutrition Services.

Speaking of food…meal options expanded for Johnson County older adults in 2022. AHS opened a new congregate dining site at Olathe Towers, offering older adults a hot nutritious lunch daily and breakfast twice a week. Also, the “Choosing Healthy Appetizing Meal Plan Solutions for Seniors” program, commonly known as CHAMPSS, added IHOP restaurants as a meal site.

In 2022, the Area Agency on Aging: 

  • Delivered 213,827 Home Delivered Meals
  • Served 27,172 congregate and ‘grab & go’ meals
  • Served 32,479 meals through the CHAMPSS program
  • Provided 273,478 meals through the Nutrition program
Emerging Artist Working

…supporting people with an intellectual or developmental disability

In 2022, Johnson County Developmental Supports saw additional visibility brought to the Emerging Artists and Papercrete Works employment programs.  A documentary film about the
Emerging Artists program has won five awards at five different film festivals with more on the horizon. An exhibit at the Kansas City Library showcased the film alongside works created by JCDS Emerging Artists.  Also, a partnership began with Sunflower Market and Blooming Buds in Olathe to sell Papercrete Works products.

By the end of 2022, Friends of JCDS owned 22 properties with three either undergoing renovation or soon to be under construction. The construction projects include collaborative partnerships with E&K of Kansas City, JE Dunn, and Kansas State University. The homes allow for affordable and accessible housing for those with IDD.

A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine to an older man in a baseball cap. Both are wearing surgical masks.

…continued efforts to fight COVID-19

As COVID-19 entered different stages throughout 2022, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment continued to respond and meet the community’s needs. This included administering 9,687 COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as they became available for different age groups and distributing 6,367 free COVID-19 test kits. The BOCC continued its role as the Board of Public Health as needed in 2022 – meeting virtually at times when public gatherings were not recommended and reviewing public health orders as needed.

In 2022 the Emergency Management Division coordinated the fulfillment of over 40 emergency requests to the State of Kansas for assistance in response to emergency resource requests from hospitals, schools and local government which resulted in the provision of critical resources including PPE, testing supplies and ventilators. Johnson County Emergency Management facilitated the distribution of 9.5 million PPE items, fulfilling requests from over 350 local organizations in 2022.

…making strides in public health

As we were able to see life after the pandemic in 2022, the Department of Health and Environment began putting into place the infrastructures to implement Public Health 3.0 principles as a way of improving the health of Johnson County residents. DHE started the Public Health Leadership Council with representatives from community organizations whose work impact the health of residents. The Leadership Council will work with DHE to build strong and trusting relationships with the community, and to advance health equity.

In addition, JCDHE held the first annual health summit in Johnson County. The goal is to carry every part of the community along as the department works to advance strategies articulated in the Moving Health Forward document, which is a blueprint of the plan to improve and sustain the health of everyone that live, work, play or learn in Johnson County.