Two service providers are looking to develop Scott County’s first residential addiction and mental health treatment programs to serve people across the seven-county metro area.

The providers, NorthStar Regional and Guild Inc., have been working with city and county officials this fall to identify potential sites for inpatient care. The county’s residents currently must travel to inpatient centers in either Minneapolis and St. Paul or Mankato.

“In terms of residential programs, to meet the needs, it’s huge,” said Pam Selvig, Scott County’s health and human services director. “Our folks have to go long distances.”

The absence of beds for people experiencing mental health crises in Scott County is a problem. Local law enforcement and St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee have identified a need for more services. Outpatient programs currently operate in Shakopee and Savage for people with addiction disorders.

Guild Inc. is based in St. Paul and operates programs in Dakota and Ramsey counties; the Scott County facility would include 16 beds for people with mental health disorders. NorthStar Regional operates Sugar Creek Residential Center in Chaska, and the new facility would provide services for up to 40 people with complex treatment needs for both mental illness and chemical dependency.

NorthStar Regional and its developer have identified commercial property in Savage and plans to submit applications to city staff.

“Obviously, we hope the stigma of addiction and mental [illness] doesn’t get in the way of us providing services,” said NorthStar CEO Jason Vanderscoff.

Mayor Janet Williams of Savage sits on the county’s mental health advisory council and has worked with both NorthStar and Guild Inc. to inform the community about their plans and allay any concerns.

“Let’s talk about it,” Williams said. “It’s treatable.”