Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority has received a significant 2017 Behavioral Health Proactive Grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to provide mobile treatment teams to help children and families in crisis.
The grant is for $499,790.95 over two years, beginning in September.
Three Family Assessment & Safety Team (F.A.S.T.) teams will be created to deploy 24 hours a day to assist children and families in crisis in these six counties: Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Wexford, Missaukee, Crawford, and Roscommon.
Through a community collaborative involving Northern Family Intervention Services, Third Level (a program of Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan), Pine Rest Clinic of Traverse City, four regional Departments of Health & Human Services, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, Munson Medical Center, area Systems of Care, and various local pediatricians, the F.A.S.T. project promises to improve access to high quality, person-centered, and integrated mental health services and diminish trauma to children and families in crisis.
Currently, for a child in crisis, one of the following occurs: The Third Level Crisis Line fields a call for help and an on-call worker checks for documents such as a crisis plan, safety plan, etc., and depending on the situation, the child may be taken to the emergency room. Law enforcement is called and the child is taken to the emergency room. A parent calls a pediatrician’s office or behavioral health specialist after hours and receives a recorded message telling them to go to the emergency room.
In each of these scenarios, children in crisis arrive at the local emergency room by ambulance, police escort, or with family, which adds further trauma to an already volatile situation as well as financial hardships that can occur when a family uses the emergency department.
Under the F.A.S.T. project, as calls are received, F.A.S.T. team members will be contacted to assess and stabilize the situation at hand. A mobile crisis unit consisting of Family Assessment and Safety Team members will immediately respond with assessment, evaluation, and crisis interventions suitable to the child and family needs.
The team is a rapid-response team and evaluation and intervention begins at the time of contact. These mobile crisis workers (F.A.S.T. members) will go directly to the child and family in crisis, rather than the child being delivered to a local emergency room.
Using standard F.A.S.T. crisis response protocols and screening tools, a two-person team consisting of a Master’s Level Clinician and a Bachelor’s Level Case Manager will help to resolve the crisis and put into place the supports needed to ensure safety and to meet the child’s immediate and ongoing behavioral health care needs.
Based on the needs of the child and family, services will be coordinated. This could include Pine Rest Clinic of Traverse City, Northern Family Intervention Services, or Munson Medical Center, and other partners as appropriate; for example, Department of Health & Human Services and/or Northern Lakes Community Mental Health.
There will be no charge for families to use the service.
The goals of the Family Assessment & Safety Team (F.A.S.T.) project are to reduce the use of hospital emergency departments for non-medical behavioral health crises and the number of inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations for children; to integrate the services of children’s medical and behavioral health care providers; and to avoid changes in the places a child calls home by ensuring a child’s safe placement with caregivers.
At the end of the grant, once communities are educated about the F.A.S.T. program and begin using this resource, these crisis services will be provided on a regular basis through billings to Medicaid and other commercial insurance companies. The grant period will allow the F.A.S.T. program to become established as communities begin to use this service on a regular basis and sustainable funding is secured.
According to Karl V. Kovacs, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, “We expect that the implementation of appropriate, integrated services will result in less unnecessary psychiatric treatment, emergency room visits, and juvenile detention, which will mean cost savings to the state of Michigan. Most importantly, there will be diminished trauma for children and families who are struggling. F.A.S.T. will streamline the coordination of all providers with a single, uniform plan and set wheels in motion for needed services in the community to help children and families to live healthy lives.”
Terri LaCroix-Kelty, LMSW, Behavioral Health Director, Munson Medical Center, said, “Munson Medical Center is thrilled to be a part of this initiative so that we can ensure that the children and families in our community get quick and expert assistance when they are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.”
Watch for more on this new project as work begins!