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John Knox Village’s Mental Health Transportation Service Experiencing Steady Growth

A little more than a year since it started offering transportation services to the Greater Kansas City Area (and sometimes beyond), the behavioral health van is exceeding service expectations.

Strong Local Partnerships

The Village’s behavioral health transportation service is novel to the Kansas City area. Consisting of partnerships between the Village and metro-area health care facilities, the service helps people having a mental health crisis receive more timely care while concurrently freeing up emergency room beds and ambulances. The service, which started transporting patients in late 2022, now has contracts with 12 area hospitals in multiple health care systems. The newest partnership is with Lee’s Summit Medical Center, which started in March.

“We are working with organizations in both Missouri and Kansas and getting busier and busier as hospitals become more acquainted with what we offer and comfortable connecting their patients with our service,” said Brian Opoka, director of public safety.

The success of the program can be attributed to proven track records and the cultivation of strong relationships in Kansas City’s health care community.

The Result?

A marked uptick in transports. From January to early April 2023, the service transported 308 patients. During the same period in 2024, it has assisted 515 patients. Brian estimates the service will transport 2,400 patients in 2024.

Although the behavioral health van service, which is part of the Village emergency medical services department (EMS), primarily serves members of the surrounding community, Village residents benefit from it. The increase in the number of calls for ambulances and the behavioral van assistance outside the Village helps grow EMS’s financial contribution and offsets operating expenses elsewhere in the Village.

Hospitals are also seeing the benefit of using van transport rather than ambulance service for patients who are discharged without mental health diagnoses. For example, a hospital in Kansas recently called during the early morning hours for assistance getting a patient home from the ER. It was 3 a.m. and the patient understandably didn’t want to take an Uber home. The team transported the patient to their apartment complex, walked the patient up to their third-floor apartment and made sure they were settled.

“For the most part, we are taking people to a specialized facility to get them the help they need in a timelier fashion, but what it really boils down to is our service makes sure people get where they need to be, when they need it the most,” Brian said.

About John Knox Village

John Knox Village is a leader in senior care in Lee’s Summit and the greater Kansas City community. From free-standing homes and apartment homes to cottages and villas, there’s a place for you at John Knox Village. With more than 700,000 square feet of common space across the beautiful campus, you’ll find more opportunities and experiences right outside your door.

For more information about our senior living options, or to schedule a visit, contact us or call (816) 261-8000.