How one triage center delivers more culturally sensitive mental health and addiction care

In light of high addiction rates, mounting mental health crises, and daily reports of overdoses and suicides in the United States, a community triage center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has created a new approach to care that is taking hold around the world. can be repeated. world.

The center, called The Link, provides 24/7 care and support to people struggling with mental health and addiction crises, with the patient population disproportionately represented by Native Americans and people of color.

The triage center — a public-private partnership between the city, the county and the state’s two largest health care organizations — has helped direct citizens in crisis from law enforcement agencies and hospital emergency departments, which are not fully equipped to provide the kind of compassionate and provide personalized assistance. care that is needed for every individual.

A true success story

Since opening, the center’s culturally sensitive care approach has reduced arrests (drug and alcohol emergency enforcement) by more than 90%.

Kelsey Sjaarda, clinical program manager, The Link, at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, will present on this success story at the HIMSS24 Global Conference and Exhibition in March.

The session, “A Culturally Sensitive Approach to Acute Mental Health and Addiction Care,” will discuss the center’s techniques for crisis stabilization, withdrawal management, and sobering up that have produced such dramatic results, with an emphasis on how they can be replicated in other communities. .

“The overarching focus of this session is to draw attention to the concept of a community triage center, which is still a fairly new concept in the healthcare world, and how this can be adapted to best suit the needs of a community ,” Sjaarda said. .

“A community triage center can provide an alternative care environment for people experiencing addiction or an acute mental health crisis, diverting them away from our hospitals and prisons,” she continued. ‘Addiction and mental health affects each of us in one way or another. The goal is really to connect individuals struggling with community resources through a warm hand.”

Adjust approaches

Since opening, employees have had to adapt their approach and figure out what works best for each individual. The HIMSS24 session will discuss not only the services provided at The Link, but also the lessons learned, successes and challenges.

‘Mental health care and addiction care cannot be tackled within the walls of just one organization,” said Sjaarda. “It takes multiple community partners to care for the whole individual and connect them to the most appropriate resources.

“It is important to connect individuals to the most appropriate care, at the right time and in the right setting,” she continued. “The main thing I want people to leave this session with is to open their minds to what a triage center could look like within their community.”

She added that the organization has researched best practices and engaged different communities from across the country to understand how they are providing services to this vulnerable population. Before the creation of The Link, a group of stakeholders toured numerous triage centers across the country. Everyone did things a little differently depending on the population they served, payer source, and unmet resources.

Expert advice

Colleagues looking to establish such a center should involve a group of diverse community stakeholders, not only in the formation process but also in ongoing evaluation, Sjaarda advised.

“It is valuable information to have diverse input on what different agencies experience and see as unmet needs,” she says. “By involving them in the process, they also receive support. Building these relationships during the development of The Link has been helpful in solving problems and being able to reach out to our partners to ask for their help.

“The population served at The Link is predominantly Native American, although our community is nearly 80% white,” she concluded. “Having partners who have expertise in working with different cultures has helped us be creative in providing culturally sensitive care.”

“A Culturally Sensitive Approach to Acute Mental Health and Addiction Treatment” is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12 from noon to 1 p.m. in room W330A at HIMSS24 in Orlando. More information and registration.

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