The Welcoming Center

Individuals experiencing a mental health crisis often turn to hospital emergency rooms for care. And while they may find stabilizing treatment for a non-critical crisis, their long-term needs can be difficult to address.

"It's easy for these individuals to get lost outside of the emergency room (ER)," said Manoj Patel, Director of LSSI's Project IMPACT (Immediate Multidisciplinary Pre-Screening Assessment Crisis Team).

With its innovative approach, LSSI's new Welcoming Center is a safe alternative to emergency room care for non-emergency mental healthcare, acting as a bridge to longer-term treatment. Staff help individuals living with anxiety, depression, alcohol/drug problems, homelessness, post-traumatic stress, domestic violence, and other emotional stressors.

With soothing colors and comfortable couches, the Welcoming Center provides a relaxed environment. The Center serves walk-in clients from the community, returning clients, and individuals referred from Swedish Covenant Hospital's Emergency Department and physician offices, and patients discharged from the inpatient unit at Swedish Covenant and other community hospitals, who need immediate linkage to behavioral healthcare.

A nurse gives all clients at the Welcoming Center a wellness check. Clients meet with a counselor, peer specialist, and case manager. Staff help de-escalate a client's crisis, provide therapeutic support, and help link them to longer-term behavioral health providers. Advanced Nurse Practitioners can prescribe needed medication.

Clients can experience long waiting lists in the community for long-term providers. "The Welcoming Center can help engage clients in treatment for up to 90 days, which helps prevent them from cycling in and out of the emergency room as they wait to engage in longer-term services,” said Patel. "We give our patients hope and support."

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