Intensive Care Services (ICS) is a Division of Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS) that supports people in emergent and urgent need of services. ICS is sometimes better known as Emergency Services. We are a division with 8 programs that serves all of Washington County and some parts of Orange County. Most of our programs operate without waiting lists or specific eligibility criteria but rather serve all members of our community who are in emergent or urgent need of service.
The Washington County Screening Team is often considered the “face of emergency services”. The Screeners are the people who are on-call 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week to answer our county’s mental health emergency line. The Screeners receive approximately 14,000 calls a year and are a mobile team. They will see people in their homes, in schools and in other community settings. The Screening Team works very closely with our 7 local police departments and with Central Vermont Medical Center emergency room and psychiatry departments. The Screeners have been working on a collaborative project with local law enforcement titled Team Two. Throughout the state Team Two is a training initiative to promote collaboration, communication and joint response protocols for law enforcement and mental health emergency services personnel. WCMHS Screening Team has a member on the Team Two faculty and a Screener who is a trainer for the project. WCMHS hosted a Team Two training and has trained all of our screeners in this collaborative response initiative.
The WCMHS Screening Team responds to many different types of crisis calls. They are responsible for following a response protocol and triaging crisis calls. They provide support to people who are in distress, need someone to listen and can provide healthy coping strategies and suggestions. They respond to people who call feeling suicidal and/or homicidal and need mental health interventions immediately. The Screeners provide crisis support to parents and family members feeling overwhelmed by children’s emotional and behavioral presentations. The Screeners also provide initial support to people who have recently lost family members or friends and are grieving those losses. The Screeners respond in collaboration with the WCMHS Disaster Response Team to schools, community forums and other public groups when people are grieving a death or other significant crisis situation that has caused distress for groups and individuals in our area. The Screening Team works hard to provide helpful crisis interventions for people in distress and their support networks.
The Screening Team works closely with all of the WCMHS Intensive Care Programs which include: Light House, Home Intervention, Children’s Access, Adult Access, Street Interventionist Program, Intensive Family Based Services and Children’s System Navigation. These programs provide immediate follow up to crisis situations and offer services to people in our community in need of a quick response. These programs often serve as a bridge to longer term services. These programs are essential to ensure that people’s mental health needs are addressed swiftly and are designed to help avoid people in our community “slipping through the cracks” or experiencing further complications from stressful or traumatic events in their lives.
Light House is our public inebriate program designed to provide an alternative to jail when people are publicly intoxicated and also determined to be unable to safely care for themselves while intoxicated. People are seen by the WCMHS Screeners and are admitted to the Light House Program 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Light House provides a safe environment for the person to receive support, nourishment and sleep while also being offered psycho-educational information about potential substance abuse and/or mental health treatment options. Light House has been a successful collaborative model with local law enforcement and CVMC’s emergency department to provide a supportive environment for people to safely contemplate their substance use and potentially seek treatment. People stay at Light House until they are sober within 24 hours.
Home Intervention is WCMHS’s adult mental health crisis bed program serving people in emergent and urgent need of supports and services. Home Intervention is a 4 bed crisis program for emergency placement needs serving Washington County and can also be used as a state resource when appropriate. Home Intervention is designed to be a short term, residential crisis bed program where people are admitted for crisis stabilization, assessment of needs, brief treatment and referrals to longer term programs when appropriate.
Adult Access is an urgent care, mobile team designed to provide crisis stabilization supports for people in distress in our community. Adult Access Clinicians meet with people in their homes, the community and in the Adult Access office space in Barre. Adult Access Clinicians provide an assessment of need for clients, brief treatment, crisis planning and if necessary, referrals to longer term services. Adult Access also provides quick turnaround psychiatric appointments for people in emergent and urgent need through one of our WCMHS Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners. Adult Access also works very closely with our Street Outreach Case Manager/Clinician. The Street Outreach Case Manager/Clinician position was designed to work closely with law enforcement and the legal system to intervene with people who are involved with the criminal justice system. Additionally, this position works closely with our Collaborative Systems Integration Project (CSIP) Coordinator to manage referrals and provide support to individuals in need of help in safely returning to or remaining in our community.
Children’s Access, Children’s System Navigation and Intensive Family Based Services work closely together to meet the emergent and urgent needs of children, adolescents and families in our community. These programs are designed to provide brief treatment to children, adolescents and families in immediate need of supportive services. Children’s Access is an emergency services program designed to provide prompt follow up to children, adolescents and families who are seen by the WCMHS Screeners. The Children’s Access Clinicians also receive referrals from other sources such as the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and local school systems in need of a quick response to a difficult situation. Children’s Access Clinicians provide an assessment of needs, brief treatment, crisis stabilization planning and referrals to longer term service providers when needed. Children’s System Navigation Program is designed to be the WCMHS unified/single point of contact for children, adolescents and their families, which simplifies the process of seeking and receiving supports in times of crisis. Children’s System Navigators provide a quick response to families and engage in an assessment of needs. The Navigation Clinicians can also provide brief treatment and then conduct case presentations at weekly Utilization Review Team meetings to determine the appropriateness of longer term services. Intensive Family Based Services is a brief treatment program designed to prevent placement of children outside of their homes or to reunify children with their families who have been removed through the DCF child protection decision making process. IFBS Clinicians work in families’ homes on specific treatment goals to provide a healthy and safe environment for all family members. IFBS is funded by a DCF grant and IFBS Clinicians work closely with our local DCF district office and all treatment team members to provide services for families in urgent need of services.
Intensive Care Services is a relatively small division that works hard every day to meet the urgent and emergent mental health needs of our county. We provide ongoing training and supervision as well as attend trainings and conferences to continue to learn about the most effective and best practices in the emergency services niche. We strive to be helpful to individuals, families and other groups who are in distress and evolve our practice patterns to meet the needs of our community. People who work in Intensive Care Services are dedicated and passionate folks and it is a true pleasure to work within this small but essential division of WCMHS.
For more information, please contact Karen Kurrle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-0591 to speak with someone from the ICS team.
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