In 2013, the Chautauqua County Mobile Crisis Response Program responded to 132 calls for after-hours mental health crisis intervention.
"Through increased collaboration with local clinics and hospitals, the program has been able to assist with afterhours monitoring of individuals to ensure their safety and support in the home environment," said Heather Stronner, Chautauqua County Mobile Crisis Response Center intensive services coordinator.
Such response wasn't available before Chautauqua Tapestry, a network of well-coordinated mental health crisis services that resulted from a collaboration among community mental health providers such as The Resource Center, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene and WCA Hospital; first responders including the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement agencies; the Crisis Hotline operated by Crisis and Suicide Services of Erie County; and the Mobile Crisis Response Program operated by Chautauqua Opportunities.
"The collaboration began approximately three years ago as a key initiative of our community's SAMHSA- funded System of Care initiative known as Chautauqua Tapestry," said Patricia Brinkman, director of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene. "The aims of improving our crisis response system have been simple: to provide the right crisis response services at the right time and the right place so as to avert unnecessary Emergency Department visits and to decrease the number of persons having a mental health disorder entering the criminal justice system unnecessarily. While much has been done, there is still more to do and our communities providers continue to work together to ensure services are in place for individuals and families where there is a mental health crisis."
As a result of the multi-agency coordination, today a person in mental health crisis may walk-in to any local community clinic for a same day crisis appointment, or can be connected to a mobile response by calling the Chautauqua County hotline at 800-724-0461. Additionally, over the past three years this partnership has trained 111 law enforcement officers in responding to persons in mental health crisis as well as provided training to law enforcement in how to use the crisis response system that is in place.
"With the partnerships that have been established law enforcement now has more options to safely work with those in crises," said Lt. Jim Quattrone of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department. "In the past, when an individual was in crisis they would either be taken to the emergency room or they would end up incarcerated. We now have options that are designed to assist those in crisis in a way that has positive outcomes."
Patricia A. McClennan, WCA Hospital inpatient mental health assistant manager, said reintegrating back to one's family, job and community can be difficult following an inpatient mental health admission.
"Part of the continuing care may now include collaboration with Chautauqua County Mobile Crisis Program," McClennan said. "This is arranged with the patient's agreement prior to being discharged from the hospital. Their professional skill and commitment to our community has assisted patients in better managing a crisis. Their staff assists in determining whether a patient can successfully manage the crisis at home or would benefit from further evaluation in the Emergency Department."
Local community members are feeling the improvements as well.
Those who are having a medical emergency or are in immediate crisis can call 911. Those who feel suicidal or need support can call the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 800-724-0461.