LSSI Receives Blue Cross/Blue Shield Community Health Initiative Grant to Expand Hospital-Based Mental Health Crisis Services on Chicago's Northwest Side

A Blue Cross/Blue Shield Community Health Initiative grant of $50,000 has helped Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) expand its hospital-based crisis intervention and mental health screenings on Chicago's northwest side in the emergency department at Community First Medical Center, 5645 W Addison St., Chicago.

IMPACT@Community First expands on a 23-year-old program established and managed by LSSI at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood. IMPACT stands for Immediate Multidisciplinary Pre-Screening Assessment Crisis Team.

Project IMPACT serves all adult-age patients who come to the Community First emergency department needing mental health or substance use care. These individuals in crisis receive help regardless of their ability to pay and the path—walk-in, drop-off, or other referral sources—that brought them to the hospital's emergency department.

Following a client screening and evaluation, IMPACT staff consult with ED staff to either find admission to area psychiatric hospital units or refer them to the appropriate follow-up services in the community.

"The Project IMPACT model has proven effective in its 23-year history, and the Community Health Initiative grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield has enabled us to expand the success of the program into more communities with its establishment at Community First," said the program's director Manoj Patel. Project IMPACT at Community First now joins 2 LSSI outpatient programs for mental health and alcohol/drug treatment in the area. People who use the emergency room can be linked with LSSI's Portage Cragin Counseling Center or Belmont Outpatient Substance Use Treatment program.

"Many people aren’t aware that mental health or alcohol/drug treatment is available outside of the emergency room," added Patel. "Project IMPACT can help people get connected to care in the community."

Community First Medical Center has seen the benefit to the community since IMPACT opened in August 2016. "This community is very diverse," said Kristen Debits, MSN, FNP, Emergency Department Director at Community First. "Our psychiatric patients have been referred to facilities quicker, and we're providing better outreach to patients with alcoholism."

With LSSI's history of providing mental health services on Chicago's northwest side, IMPACT at Community First staff have a full complement of resources to which patients can be referred to in the community.

About Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Serving Illinois since 1867, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) is a nonprofit social service organization of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI is the largest statewide social service provider, serving nearly 70,000 people across Illinois last year. The organization provides critical programs for Illinois residents including foster care, early childhood education, mental health services, alcohol and drug treatment, affordable senior housing, residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, and programs that help formerly incarcerated individuals integrate back into society.


Barb Hailey