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County works to improve mental health crisis response

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ANN MARIE AMES
August 15, 2008
— Mental health and law enforcement advocates in Rock County have made an action list to reduce the time police have to wait in the emergency room with people having a mental health crisis, Criminal Justice Planner/Analyst Elizabeth Pohlman McQuillen said.

On the list, she said, are the following:


-- Crisis workers and law enforcement agents from every jurisdiction in the county will be invited to a training session with Ron Diamond, a Wisconsin mental health specialist.


-- Rock County Crisis Intervention will become “more mobile” and respond to the scenes of some crisis situations.


-- The county could contract services at a 14-bed facility on North Washington Street. That would provide more beds than the eight available at Jackson House, 21 S. Jackson St., Janesville.


-- Crisis intervention is researching a video conferencing system that would help crisis workers do remote mental health assessments while people in crisis are waiting in the emergency room.


-- Rock County Human Services Department and Mercy Health System officials are talking about how more county patients can be accepted into Mercy’s inpatient psychiatric facility.


Officers have to wait in the emergency room with people in mental health crisis because a local doctor must medically clear people who need inpatient psychiatric treatment before they can get treatment.


State law requires officers stay with individuals, but local officers have said long emergency room waits waste resources and reduce patrols.


A subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council has been talking about the problem and directing Pohlman McQuillen to search for solutions.



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