According to Sharp, the system grew out of a local mental health working group that was assembled last year that identified a gap in local care for the mentally ill and their families. That group included Sharp and Buss as well as Ann Young and Dewey McConville.
“The first thing mental health patients rely on is their family and their friends and after elongated periods of time, friends and family have nothing more to give,” said Sharp. “They’ve done everything they possibly can. And we run into families and patients that are disconnected because mental health affects your behavior and your social health. The bottom line is we run into many patients that have little or no family support and no financial resources and nowhere to turn.”
According to Buss in the past the way to deal with those patients was through the emergency room and then usually a 72 hour hold before the patients would be returned to the community with no local support.
“And we just think we’re proactively taking on a problem at its roots and dealing with it in county and spending what would potentially be a $10,000 hospital stay on practical in-community solutions,” said Sharp.
“We’re hoping that not only is it going to be a community based service that actually provides support for a mental health patient but it’s also going to be a cost saving service,” said Sharp. “We will in probably 10 to 15 percent of cases now we will be spending money on hospitalization but the other 85 percent of the time we’re going to be spending those dollars in county providing tangible services and care to those patients who need 24 hour support and that’s where this place comes in.”
“It can also be a stepping stone back down if someone goes into inpatient,” said Buss. “After 72 hours a lot of people aren’t ready yet…It could be another step coming back into the community…so it kind of works both ways.”