In June 2010, HCRS initiated an important innovation in mental health crisis treatment when we opened Vermont’s first Crisis Care Center in Springfield. Due to the success of this first Crisis Care Center, in August 2011 HCRS opened its second Crisis Care Center in Brattleboro.
Typically, when a person is experiencing a mental health crisis, they must go to their local Emergency Room (ER) and a crisis screener is called in to evaluate them. Unfortunately, most ERs are overburdened with medical emergencies resulting in lengthy waits for mental health treatment. In addition, the mental health patient who goes to the ER incurs charges for both the use of the ER and the crisis screening, which makes this a very expensive way to treat a mental health crisis. The long waits and high cost of this approach add a layer of additional stress to an already stressful event.
HCRS’ Crisis Care Center offers a welcoming, supportive, and more affordable way to handle mental health crises. For example, in its first year of operation the Springfield Crisis Care Center diverted 102 clients from the ER, saving approximately $122,000 in unnecessary Medicaid billing, while diverting 89 clients from inpatient psychiatric facilities, saving an estimated $783,000 in inpatient expenses. The Crisis Team specializes in treating adults, adolescents, and children who are struggling with an acute crisis such as suicidal or homicidal thoughts, feelings of being out of control or unsafe, and/or extreme emotional distress. The crisis staff can provide referrals to counseling, medical, psychiatric and substance abuse services, as well as inpatient psychiatric admission, based on the needs of the client.
While the Crisis Care Center treats a wide array of mental health issues, it is not a medical facility. Therefore, individuals in crisis who have serious medical issues, who have taken an overdose, or who are injured, should go to their nearest ER. In these instances, the ER staff will call for a crisis screener once the patient is medically stable.
In addition to being a cost effective and supportive way to treat mental health crises, the Crisis Care Center reduces wait times for clients in crisis substantially. It is not unusual for an ER visit to last four hours or more. The typical client in the Crisis Care Center is seen within 15 minutes of arrival, and is usually ready to go in less than two hours. This makes for a much less stressful event for the client, their family, and other community providers. HCRS is also partnering with local community providers to provide outreach, case management, and follow-up services to those in crisis.
The Crisis Care Centers are located at 386 River Street in Springfield and 208 Linden Street in Brattleboro. They are open Monday through Friday 9AM – 10PM. If you or someone you know is in need of crisis services, please feel free to call us and we will be happy to coordinate a screening, either at the Crisis Care Center or the ER. We can be reached on our 24-hour Crisis hotline (800) 622-4235.