GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An urgent care will soon be available for those with mental health problems in West Michigan.
“You can walk in and get rapid attention,” Dr. Mark Eastburg, president and CEO of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, explained the concept behind the hospital’s new Psychiatric Urgent Care Center in Cutlerville.
“The hope is that within two hours, you can get a plan and treatment in place ready to go instead of maybe a month wait for an outpatient appointment,” he continued.
The Contact Center on Pine Rest’s 68th Street SE campus east of Division Street will house the pilot program. Patients 18 years and older will be able to walk in for evaluations seven days a week. Commercial, Medicaid health plans and Medicare insurances will be accepted.
The idea grew out of research with those in the mental health field, area hospitals, law enforcement, emergency medical service providers and others who deal with problems accessing mental health care.
“This was the model that emerged as we could get started on today,” Eastburg said.
He said the concept was designed to ease the apprehension for patients who would otherwise end up in a hospital emergency room or not seek help at all.
“We really hope this helps to destigmatize mental illness,” Eastburg said. “Rather than having to go to an emergency department or to think about inpatient care, this is that step in between.”
In 2016, more than 14,000 patients showed up at Grand Rapids emergency rooms with behavioral health as their main concern. The new center will ease pressure on those facilities, which in current circumstances may need to board patients who are waiting for assessments or referrals, which is costly and delays treatment.
“In our community, there’s kind of a duality between waiting for outpatient services if you have a psychiatric crisis or many people end up going to the emergency room. We think the community needs something in the middle,” Eastburg said.
The center will open in March 2019. If successful, the program could expand to treat children, adolescents and seniors.