New Green Bay mental health hospital holds open house


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — Willow Creek Behavioral Health is set to open next Tuesday. Today, the public got to tour Green Bay’s newest mental health hospital and drug treatment center.

Willow Creek is a 72-bed facility offering in-patient and out-patient care, and partial hospitalization. It will offer mental health services through a geriatric center, treat children, and offer free mental health assessments to anyone who asks.

Willow Creek has about 80 employees right now. They hope to increase that number to 250 within a year and a half. Once they get to that mark, they’ll be able to take care of roughly 3,000 people a year from our area.

“And that’s direct services. The other important function that we’ll be providing is assessments for anybody who wants to come in, call in, and get some assistance,” says the center’s Medical Director, Dr. Peter Fischer.

Fischer says that’s 3,000 people who would otherwise struggle finding help because of a shortage in mental health care.

That’s an unacceptable fact to Jim Shaheen, founder and president of the company that built Willow Creek, Strategic Behavioral Health.

“What we know and what we recognize about this population is if they don’t receive care, they die 30 years earlier than the regular population,” says Shaheen.

Shaheen says fighting to save lives takes the best doctors and staff, and Willow Creek is recruiting them from all over the country. He expects 20% of the people they hire will be new to Green Bay.

“That’s huge because when somebody calls a psychiatric facility for help and they’re told, ‘we can’t get you in for 3 to 6 months,’ that’s a huge problem,” say Barb Gerarden of the Green Bay Police Department.

She’s the department’s temporary mental health officer.

Green Bay Police say they took nearly 600 people into custody last year who were going through a mental health crisis.

“We’ve noticed in the last year there’s been a bed shortage in our community so we had to transport people out of our community which is less than ideal,” said Gerarden.

Shaheen says that’s exactly the type of impact he wants Willow Creek to have on the community.

In all, it took about two and a half years from conceptualizing this project to next Tuesday’s grand opening.

“We’re just excited to be here and to be a place of hope for folks and to know that they can come at any time and we’ll sit down and help,” says Shaheen.