Burrell Proposes Greene County Commission Give $1.5 Million Yearly for Rapid Access Treatment Center

Burrell Behavioral Health made a presentation to the Greene County Commission on Friday for the creation of a Rapid Access Treatment Center (RATC) that would give first responders a 24/7 crisis-stabilization facility staffed by Burrell.

Burrell stated in a document given to the Commission that the RATC would provide a “more appropriate routing system for behavioral health and substance use crises.” The proposal says that the center could reduce “unnecessary hospitalizations” by 50%.

The Center would also allow a response from area mental health professionals to increasing problems in the region. Burrell cites the 2019 Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Needs Assessment which notes suicide accounts for up to 20% of deaths for people under 30, above state and national averages, and the depression rate of 36.7% is also above the national average.

Crisis services like a RATC was cited by over half the respondents to the Assessment as being one of the area’s most important needs.

The full cost of the Center is estimated to be $3.5 million per year, and Burrell has asked Greene County to contribute $1.5 million to the Center’s funding as part of a public/private funding plan. A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cited by Burrell in their proposal says that the net financial return for every dollar spent on a RATC would be $2.16. The proposal says the funds would “help provide the core infrastructure necessary to allow us to meet the initial need and, over time, increase our capacity.”

The RATC, would be considered an emergency behavioral healthcare alternative to the traditional hospital Emergency Department (ED), is considered to be an attractive option for healthcare in the County because right now EDs are the primary centers for mental health and substance abuse crisis.

As ED prioritize the people who come in based on life-threatening situations and can bring extended waits for other patients. However, many EDs are dealing with understaffing issues, a lack of specialized doctors dealing with mental health issues, and a lack of inpatient availability. Burrell’s proposed RATC would focus on individuals whose issues seem to be based on psychiatric issues and/or substance use.

Burrell’s proposal would have the RATC require of patients:

  • A 23-hour assessment, observation, stabilization, and treatment service for adults with an acute psychiatric and/or substance use disorder;
  • 24/7 staffing by a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, nurses, licensed mental health professionals, community support workers, peer support specialists, and support staff;
  • Care coordination and integration with public health officials and health system partners for appropriate follow-up care.
Burrell’s Park Center Detox Facility, their proposed site for a Rapid Access Treatment Center

The Rapid Access Treatment Center would accept law enforcement referrals, walk–ins, or direct referrals from public health officials and health system partners. Burrell noted that the new facility would not be a psychiatric inpatient facility but a center for providing immediate stabilizing care and serve as an improved & specialized routing system to connect individuals to the proper level of care. They would also have specialized staff to help those who are uninsured gain Medicaid coverage.

The Center would not be for patients that are identified as requiring immediate medical stabilization or incarceration.

The proposal from Burrell notes that staffing will cost in excess of $3 million per year because of the need of a Medical Director and psychiatric nurse practitioners on every shift. In addition, there are other nurses, mental health clinicians and technicians, and other specialized support staff.

Burrell states that success would be measured on the following indicators:

  • Assessments for individuals experiencing a psychiatric emergency in 30 minutes or less from presentation;
  • Diversion from unnecessary hospitalizations;
  • Reduction in non-urgent emergency department visits where behavioral health or social needs are the primary urgent diagnostic area;
  • Rapid stabilization of psychiatric and psychosocial symptoms in less than 24 hours from presentation;
  • Improved efficiency of law enforcement and emergency management services;
  • Decreased incarcerations;
  • Continuous performance improvement through extensive tracking of outcomes and follow-up after RATC stabilization.

Burrell wants to put the facility in their current Park Center Detox Facility on South Park Avenue in Springfield. The facility is a 40-bed detoxification and residential treatment center for people with substance abuse issues such as opioid addiction.

Burrell says the building would need “minor physical plant improvements” before being turned into a RATC.

“We should have a higher standard,” Burrell Behavior Health President & CEO C.J. Davis writes in the proposal. “We believe a RATC will fill this need and measurably improve the lives of countless individuals in southwest Missouri.”

Davis expanded upon the thoughts behind the proposal in a statement to OI:

“The need for a 24/7 mental health and substance-use disorder drop-off site was a major need identified in the 2019 Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Needs Assessment, released last spring. This is our initial response to that need, as we seek to put sustainable services in place to help improve mental health outcomes for Greene County residents and reduce the burden on our local medical and emergency response communities.

“We recognize that the only way to successfully accomplish this is through an invested partnership with local law enforcement, justice and governmental entities, as well as our health partners at CoxHealth, Mercy, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the health department. We are ready and willing to step up and lead on this issue, but it can only be accomplished through true collaboration.”

Greene County Commissioner Harold Bengsch agreed.

“Mental health is being recognized as a major public health issue, as such it requires a community-wide approach,” Bengsch told OI.

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