By Garrett Cabeza, Daily News staff writer May 16, 2019 Updated May 16, 2019
The efforts to bring this mental health crisis center to the Palouse started with a Spring Conference that DAC NW, NAMI Idaho, and U of I brought to the area in May of 2017! The crisis services will be provided in the former Wack-A-Doos Styling Salon space at 531 S. Main St., between the recovery center and Moscow Pawn.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Carol Moehrle, district director for Public Health — Idaho North Central District. “It’s about time our region had some crisis services.”
LRCC Director Darrell Keim said the crisis center, which he hopes will open in July, would provide a soothing environment for those experiencing a mental health crisis. He said at least two certified mental health professionals would be staffed to screen patients to determine if they require crisis services or other health services and to treat patients.
Potential patients would enter the recovery center, get screened and then enter the crisis center next door if those services are deemed appropriate, Keim said.
He said recovery center staff will ensure patients’ safety while they are treated in the crisis center.
The crisis center will be comprised of six semi-private resting rooms, office spaces, a kitchen, shower and restroom. Patients can stay at the center for as long as 24 hours at a time, but most tend to stay for significantly less time, Keim said.
The crisis services will be funded by the state and the facility will be managed by the recovery center, which is renting the space.
Moehrle said the goal is to provide a crisis center in each of Idaho’s Region II counties — Latah, Nez Perce, Clearwater, Lewis and Idaho — with the focus on setting up services in Latah and Nez Perce counties first. Each center will be called the Rural Crisis Center Network.
The approach is different than other Idaho crisis center models, Moehrle said. For example, the Northern Idaho Crisis Center in Coeur d’Alene — the nearest crisis center to Moscow — provides services to the five northernmost Idaho counties.
Moehrle said a crisis center in each Region 2 county will allow people to access a center more quickly in times of need.
“In those areas, they should have opportunities for resources there as well, so we’re really excited that this model will benefit those in the communities that they live,” Moehrle said. Keim said a crisis center is absolutely needed in the area.
“We already see people that I would be recommending for crisis services coming into the recovery center periodically,” he said.
Some burden will be taken off Gritman Medical Center and local law enforcement, Keim said.
He said someone from law enforcement is required to be present for each individual on a mental health hold at Gritman. Keim said Moscow Police Department Chief James Fry told him Moscow police had 317 behavioral health-related transports from 2015 to April. The center should free up more time for officers to respond to other calls other than mental holds.
“My expectation is it would be a very positive thing,” said Gritman Chief Medical Officer John Brown. “We are so short of resources for assisting folks in crisis that I think any addition to the team would be helpful.
We fully intend to cooperate as much as we can with their activities and to help our interactions be as smooth as possible for the sake of the patients that we’re going to be mutually taking care of.”
Brown, who also works as a Gritman emergency room doctor, said it is not uncommon to see people end up in the emergency room from emotional distress, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug issues and other crisis-causing agents. It is often difficult to help them access community resources, he said.
“I anticipate this new operation will definitely help people who are in need get care quicker than they are able to get it now,” Brown said. “At the moment, it is difficult to arrange clear follow up and to help people who are in crisis do other things besides just show up in the emergency room, which is not a bad thing to do, but it’s very expensive and has limited resources that can apply right at the moment.”
Moehrle said several details have to be finalized before the crisis center opens.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.