Cleveland Crisis and Recovery Center Awarded for Crisis Response Efforts

PINEHURST, NC – Cleveland County now has one of the lowest rates of behavioral health use of the emergency department (ED) in the state, thanks, in part, to a collaboration between Partners Behavioral Health Management, Carolinas Medical Center-Cleveland, the City of Shelby Police Department, and Phoenix Counseling Center.

Cleveland Crisis and Recovery Center, located at 609 N. Washington Street, Shelby, is home to a “behavioral health urgent care,” where citizens experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis can go for help, instead of waiting in the ED. The concept, developed by the four agencies, received the NC Council of Community Programs “Programs of Excellence in Crisis Response” award at its annual conference.

“Several years ago, data showed that Cleveland County had the highest number of people going to the emergency department for behavioral health needs,” said Rhett Melton, Partners’ CEO. “We committed to addressing this problem by partnering with community leaders to identify and implement effective alternatives.”

The solution is the behavioral health urgent care, where people can come at any time to get help during a crisis event. The urgent care is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and while it specializes in mental health and addiction crisis, medical professionals are on staff to ensure medical stability. The behavioral health urgent care treats an average of 50 people per month, and more than 90% of people evaluated at the urgent care choose to receive treatment in some type of community-based behavioral health service.

Current data shows that Cleveland County now has the lowest rate of behavioral health use of the emergency department (ED) in the entire Carolinas Healthcare System. Getting people to come to the urgent care, instead of the ED, was a hard barrier to overcome. “It was part of the culture for people with any type of problem to go to the ED. Changing the culture, which happened in a large part thanks to this partnership, has had a great impact on the program’s success,” said Kevin Oliver, CEO of Phoenix Counseling Center, which operates Cleveland Crisis and Recovery Center.

The urgent care is staffed with Crisis Intervention Team-trained law enforcement officers from the City of Shelby Police Department and Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office who assist and accept those under involuntary commitment orders. The law enforcement presence allows officers transporting those in need of evaluation to get back on the road, instead of waiting with the person in the ED.

“In the past, the mental health process was extremely cumbersome on our staff, not only from a manpower standpoint but a service level,” said Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford. “Thanks to the behavioral health urgent care, we now are experiencing a decreased wait time with individuals in crisis or under commitment orders, and officers and telecommunications personnel now have the training to handle any crisis situation they encounter.”

The North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Programs presented the “Programs of Excellence in Crisis Response” award on December 8, 2016.

Representatives on hand to accept the award were (left-right) Tiffany McDaniel of CMC-Cleveland; Elizabeth Lemons, Jerry Utt, and Cheryl Billings of Phoenix Counseling Center; Barbara Hallisey, Partners; Kevin Oliver, Phoenix; and Rhett Melton, Partners.

Each year the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Programs seeks to identify innovative and effective community programs that have been instrumental in serving persons with disabilities in North Carolina. A committee, which includes the directors and board members of local management entities and managed care organizations, selects winners.  NC Council represents the Medicaid public managers of mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services.