Grant brings mental health help to Essentia ER – Duluth News Tribune

July 27, 2018

Story shared from the Duluth News Tribune (see original story here)

Beleaguered emergency room personnel are getting extra help in responding to people who come to their doors with mental and behavioral health issues.

 “The hospital gets frustrated because it’s the same people coming through, the same challenges,” said Julie Wilson, director of community based services at the Human Development Center. “They walk out the door and there’s no follow-through.”

The problem, Wilson explained, is that many people come to the ER who don’t need to be admitted to the hospital for medical treatment but need help. But ER employees don’t have the resources to help guide them toward stability.

The Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center ER sees more than 3,000 patients annually who need mental health services, Essentia’s Diane Holliday-Welsh wrote earlier this year in a letter of support for a grant application. About half of them are sent back into the community without being admitted, and often without the help they really need.

The grant sought by the development center, with support from Essentia and St. Luke’s hospital, is a Mental Health Innovations grant offered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The application was for money to enable the development center to offer a case manager, when requested, for people who arrive at the ER needing mental or behavioral health support was needed.

The plan, which was Wilson’s brainchild, was one of six from among 41 proposals to win a grant, which totals a little more than $260,000 over 18 months, according to Jim Getchell, the development center’s executive director.

The grant enables the development center to have a case manager available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday (excluding holidays) to provide support in either hospital’s emergency room, A full-time case manager is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, Wilson said, with others on call after hours and on Saturdays. The development center’s commitment is to have someone at the ER within 30 minutes of a call, she said.

The program began on July 2, and as of Wednesday case managers had responded to 13 emergency room calls, Wilson said.

 It’s yielding positive results already, Holliday-Welsh said.

Another response from the case manager came when a multigenerational family of five that just had been evicted showed up at one of the emergency rooms, Wilson said. The elderly parents had medical issues and the grown daughter had mental health issues, but nothing that required hospitalization. The development center put them up in a hotel the first night and a case manager met with them the next day to help them find a path toward stability.

In their case, as in many, it’s a long-term process for the case manager.

“We’re still working on it,” Wilson said. “We haven’t closed the loop yet.”

Additional grants

The Mental Health Innovations award is one of three significant grants the Human Development Center has received recently, Getchell said.

The others:

• First Episode Psychosis, $686,000 over two years. Research shows that the first episode of a psychosis such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia typically occurs from the late teens to mid-20s. A pilot program to treat individuals when they experience their first episode began in the metro area and will expand to Duluth, with the development center leading the effort. The grant period began April 1.

• School-linked mental health, $920,000 over three years. The development center potentially will bring its services to all 29 schools in Carlton, southern St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties, providing licensed therapists and mental health practitioners who are trained to work with schools. The grant period began July 1.

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