(KCPW News) Hoping to keep residents with mental health problems out of emergency rooms or jail whenever possible, Salt Lake County has launched three new Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams. As Mayor Peter Corroon explains, the teams will be deployed starting this Thursday to deal with problems whenever and wherever they arise. He noted as a property manager, he once had an elderly tenant who got off her medication and attacked police with a pair of clippers.
“This woman, who was normally a great woman, ended up in jail for two to three months, which is not what we want to see,” he said. “What we want to see is somebody to deal with that crisis right away and help people in need.”
Rick Elorreaga is Executive Director of OptumHealth Salt Lake County, which manages the county’s mental health services.
He explains the outreach teams will not only provide immediate help on-site, but referrals to other services to help keep patients out of hospital beds.
“The hospitalizations and acute in-patient is very, very costly,” says Elorreaga. “Going through an emergency room – it sometimes is appropriate, but in some cases, it’s not appropriate. From a cost perspective, there is quite a difference from mobile crisis outreach outpatient services to inpatient services.”
The new service will be operated by the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. It’s estimated the teams will be deployed between one to two hundred times a month. The county’s crisis line can be reached at 801-587-3000.