In its first year of operation, the new Crisis Response Center helped stabilize nearly 13,000 people in need in Pima County and diverted as many as 10,000 calls that otherwise would have gone to 911 operators, according to the facility’s first annual report since opening in August 2011.
The Crisis Response Center was an integral part of the 2006 Pima County bond package totaling $54 million for new behavioral health facilities. Prior to the Center’s opening, people in crisis were routinely taken to jail or hospital emergency departments, which added to overcrowding and often wasn’t an effective way to respond to immediate behavioral health needs.
“When more than 60 percent of voters supported the bond question for improved behavioral health opportunities, it confirmed that this community wholly understands the importance of reforming our approach to addressing mental illness and substance abuse,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “It’s important that people find appropriate, compassionate and evidence-based care so that they feel supported during their treatment and journey to recovery.”
Among key findings over the reporting period, August 2011 through September 2012:
• The Center served 12,840 adults and children, an average of 917 individuals a month.
• Of the roughly 11,000 adults seen during the reporting period, only a small percentage needed additional services more intensive than a 23-hour crisis stabilization period, demonstrating that most crisis situations were resolved in the least restrictive environment possible.
• The crisis line housed at the Center took more than 135,000 calls during the first year, with 95 percent of those individuals stabilized in the community instead of requiring treatment from more intense and costly resources such as a psychiatric facility.
• Law enforcement transported nearly 5,000 people to the Center, who otherwise would have been brought to hospitals or the jail.
• While law enforcement officers previously spent hours in emergency departments waiting for patients to be cleared, custody transfers to the Center have consistently been completed within 15 minutes or less.
The Center, southwest of Ajo Way and Country Club Boulevard, is adjacent to the University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus and the Pima County Health Department.
While it is difficult to put a dollar amount on economic benefits resulting from the development of the Crisis Response Center, the Center has likely saved an estimated $43 million to $75 million in criminal justice costs alone, using a formula by Rutgers University’s Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies, which determined that every $1 invested in behavioral health care saves between $4 and $7.
“While communities across the country are grappling with how to care for vulnerable residents, the vision of a ‘no wrong door’ comprehensive crisis care system is benefitting thousands of individuals and their families,” said Neal Cash, the President and CEO of Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, which oversees services at the Center. “We are committed to providing coordinated, cost-effective behavioral health crisis services while working to improve the overall health of this community.”
To learn more about the Crisis Response Center, please visit http://www.cpsaarizona.org/AboutUs/Pages/Crisis-Response-Center.aspx.
To read the full report, please visit http://www.pima.gov/behavioralhealth/pdf/CRC_annual_report.pdf.
Pima County offers a website – www.pima.gov/behavioralhealth – that can serve as a resource for those seeking information on where to turn for help.
In the event of a behavioral health crisis, call (520) 622-6000 or 1-800-796-6762. For all emergencies, call 9-1-1.