Emergency mental health center fills need in Carson City

A new emergency health center in Carson City is addressing the needs of mental health and substance abuse patients in the area.

The Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis Center, a 10-bed unit located in Carson Tahoe Specialty Medical Center on Fleischmann Way, opened in early January.

The center is operated by Carson Tahoe Health and provides immediate care for patients and gives first responders an option other than the hospital emergency room or jail to take individuals in distress.

“We developed this program, which is the first of its kind in Nevada after meeting, with community leaders. Since opening a month ago, we immediately saw we were addressing a gap in services,” said Christina Sapien, director, Carson Tahoe Health Behavioral Health Services. “Our staff, clinically trained in behavioral health, is responding to patient needs in a timely and compassionate manner.”

Previously, Sapien said, if a sheriff’s deputy responded to a home where someone was threatening suicide, for example, the only option was to take the individual to the hospital’s emergency room, where they waited an average of 54 hours before being admitted or transferred for care. In other situations, the person might be transported to jail.

“The Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis Center has created a most positive change in the way we approach behavioral health calls,” said Kenny Furlong, Carson City sheriff. “This unit has given officers options that were not readily available in the past.”

In its first month, the center had 86 admissions with an average stay of 33 hours, and the goal is to get that closer to 24 hours. Of those admissions, 47 were transferred to inpatient psychiatric care next door at Behavioral Health Services, 38 were discharged and one was transferred to the hospital for medical care.

Most of the referrals came from the hospital emergency room and Carson City Sheriff’s officers, but the center serves the region and took in patients from Dayton, Fernley, Winnemucca and the Washoe Tribe as well as people referred by Carson City’s public guardian and Friends in Service Helping and Douglas County’s East Fork Fire Department and Minden Urgent Care.

The 4,000 square-foot center operates 24 hours a day with one nurse and two mental health technicians as well as security. Social workers working 10-hour shifts are there seven days a week and psychiatrists are on call.

The center has been about a year and a half in the making, after Furlong, Carson City Manager Nick Marano and Richard Whitley, director, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, approached Sapien and Ed Epperson, Carson Tahoe Health president and chief executive officer, with a proposal.

Initially, the idea was to locate a center staffed by Carson Tahoe Health inside Carson City Health and Human Services on Long Street, but that didn’t prove feasible, said Sapien.

So the former emergency room at the old hospital on Fleischmann Way was reconstructed by Northstar Construction with a $350,000 donation from the Mallory Foundation, the Carson City private foundation that has contributed $2 million to the hospital.

“I want to especially thank the Mallory Foundation for their generous support in making this dream a reality,” said Marano. ”The crisis center will help with a crucial need within Carson City. It will provide a supportive service for our emergency responders to get individuals the appropriate care they need quickly and efficiently. Access to quality behavioral health treatment has been a significant gap in our community and it’s so fantastic that we now have this wonderful facility.”


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