Guild — Savage

The Guild Crisis and Recovery Center in downtown Savage.

The Guild Crisis and Recovery Center in downtown Savage is up and running despite challenges facing residential care centers during the pandemic.

“For us to actually open a residential program in the heart of the pandemic is pretty remarkable,” said Mary Beth Fessler, Guild’s director of coordinated health and residential services.

On Nov. 23, 2020 the first client was admitted to the Guild Crisis and Recovery Center in Savage.

The center offers crisis stabilization services for up to 10 days and intensive residential treatment services, referred to as IRTS, for up to 90 days for clients experiencing a mental health crisis.

IRTS programs provide access to intensive treatment while preparing individuals to integrate back into their community and home setting, Guild’s Executive Director and CEO Julie Bluhm told the Savage Pacer in previous interviews.

Without transitional support, many people with mental illness bounce between two extremes on the care spectrum — hospitalizations and outpatient services. While IRTS is a step down from hospitalization, crisis services are meant to help people avoid the hospital in the first place.

The 16-bed facility offers individualized rooms and bathrooms for each client, but Fessler said they haven’t yet been able to serve at capacity due to staffing shortages.

“Not every bed is filled, but we are filing the ones that we are able to,” she said, adding staffing shortages are facing residential facilities statewide.

Guild in Savage is currently looking to add entry-level employees to work overnight positions as well as additional mental health practitioners.

Most of the facility’s current staff live locally.

Savage resident Teri Savoie, who manages the crisis and recovery center, first learned about plans for the treatment center while reading the newspaper.

“My eyes just lit up and beamed because this is my passion,” Savoie said.

Savoie said roughly half of all clients served since opening have been from Savage or elsewhere in Scott County. Clients are also frequently from Burnsville or elsewhere in Dakota County.

Despite the pandemic, Savoie said the foundation of day-to-day treatment for clients hasn’t changed.

“It’s just a matter of us being more creative and helping them access those services and finding ways to connect them with meaningful services that’ll benefit them,” she said.