Clark County expands health crisis team to operate 24/7

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:42 AM PDT
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CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (KPTV) - Since the Fall, people at Columbia River Mental Health Services have operated a mobile health care unit several days a week. Now that unit will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there will be a difference in the day shift and the night shift.

The night team will be staffed with crisis support specialists trained in crisis de-escalation and risk assessment.

It’s part of the county’s mission to help those with both substance abuse, and behavioral problems, with the hope of reducing the need for emergency room and hospital care during the overnight hours.

This is health care on wheels and at night, and it is largely responding to crisis.

The daytime program is more proactive. It sends teams of medical professionals into encampments around Clark County and tries to get people health care and help getting off the streets. The daytime mobile unit is staffed with a nurse, therapists and counselors.

Reinhardt Ryden is a peer counselor and in recovery himself.

“What I’m able to do is share some of my lived experiences to connect with people and talk to them more on that one on one and kind of build a friendship with them,” he said.

The night crisis team is designed to divert hundreds of calls for help from first responders.

The folks with the night team said, during the night, those in mental health crisis often have few options for help. They hope the mobile team will free up police to tackle crime and prevent folks from going to the hospital.

The team started its first night shift at ten p.m. Sunday night, and it will work until 8 a.m. when the day shift will take over.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, you can reach the mobile teams in Clark County by calling the 24/7 Crisis Connections line at 800-626-8137 | TTY 866.835.2755