Pilot program to improve mental health crisis response in Illinois

  • Source: Rockford Register Star
  • Published: 04/15/2019 12:00 AM

The often frenetic pace of a hospital emergency room can be the opposite of the calm environment needed by people experiencing a mental health crisis. Yet when families in Rockford and across Illinois call 911 for help with a loved one suffering from a psychotic, schizophrenic or depressive episode, there is only one place ambulances are allowed to transport the patient: the emergency room. That would change under a proposed Rockford Fire Department pilot program that would allow Rockford paramedics to transport patients, when it’s appropriate, to the Rosecrance Mulberry Center, Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said. “All of the local hospitals have staff that can treat mental health patients if they’re in crisis, but if you look at the research, the emergency room is not the best place for many of them,” Bergsten said. “It’s loud and it’s bright. This is about getting them to a safe place where they are comfortable and that is suited for the type of issue they are experiencing.” The Rockford City Council is expected to vote on the proposal next week.


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