The Sol Vista Health Regional Assessment Center on the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus is already helping patients and looking to expand in the new year. It held its “official” grand opening last May and has since stepped up its services.
Executive director Brian Turner, in a recent interview, said that a director, Julie Anderson, has been in place for some time.
“We’re working hard…we’re still hiring and looking for more people to come and work at the Regional Assessment Center,” Turner said, “but we’re seeing people and it’s going well providing invaluable help to community members in everywhere. the region.”
“Law enforcement regularly shuttle people to us, so they can drop them off at a dedicated access port that we have…and we take it from there, getting people the help they need. needed,” he added.
One of the priorities we are currently working on, Turner pointed out, is that the state has created a new rules structure for safe transportation for behavioral health incidents; people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and need to be transported to another level of care.
“The counties are working on creating the licensing structure; so the state makes the rules, and then the counties are responsible for creating the local licensing structure,” he said, much like how a local taxi service would be established, albeit with different rules and requirements.
Those rules are expected to be established in January in Sol Vista Health Center’s four-county service area (Chaffee, Fremont, Lake and Custer with Park).
But, he noted, the assessment center’s impact footprint is larger than the four-county area.
“The regional assessment center is a resource for everyone, so even though we are not the mental health center assigned to other counties, we work closely with those other counties and make sure they know they have access to our center resource as a regional resource for everyone,” Turner said.
“We really try to serve as a regional hub, where we connect to all the other resources, not only on what we can provide under this roof, but making sure that we connect people to care, and that could be at Sol Vista, but it could also be with other resources they have in the community where they’re from, so we’re really well connected to the Medicaid program in that part of the state…”
The State of Colorado is taking steps to try to meet the critical needs identified in this area.
“The state has their new behavioral health administration and we’re really well connected with them,” he added. “So if someone’s coming from, say, Summit County – or if they’re passing through [our four-county area] when they need to access our care but are from Denver, we can network and work with other providers to provide them with long-term support. We just don’t want to help in times of crisis, we also want to help connect them to things that can help prevent the next crisis. »
Turner says he feels, like other professionals, that the state is turning a page on mental health care.
“Colorado is in a great place right now, where we’re really transforming the system to a more comprehensive system, where we can provide people with many different types of care. We can coordinate this in a way that perhaps meets all of their needs, because so many things are happening at the same time, right? ” he said. “You could have a mental health and addictions issue, and those things could be related to a physical health issue that you’re having, right? … they could be related to financial stress or housing stress you are experiencing. If we think of treating just one of these elements, and only one, we probably won’t get as good a result as if we think of treating the whole person and all of their needs.
The most important immediate need at the local level is, of course, qualified personnel.
An entry-level category called “behavioral health worker” does not require a college degree or clinical license. The new assessment center then provides training in-house and, in some cases, in partnership with entities such as College Mountain College.
“It’s for people who have a passion for the job, who want to grow and have some sort of career in behavioral health,” Turner said. “It’s a great place to start, and of course, since we cover 24/7 shifts, it’s just necessary to make sure we have a wide range of people who can to be there to provide care.”
As for clinical positions, Turner said Sol Vista still hires licensed behavioral health providers, but it’s pretty well staffed in that category compared to entry-level needs.
Although there are concerns about housing availability and affordability issues, as has been the case for other health care providers and other professions, Turner explained, “If we can find people who are here in the community, who really want to have the opportunity to enter this industry and have a whole career path ahead of them, we can support them and provide training to take them on that path. This is what we are looking for and we want to spread this message everywhere. »
Those interested in learning about Sol Vista opportunities can visit the website: SolVistaHealth.org.