FEATURE — When someone experiences an “acute crisis,” such as an anxiety attack, psychosis or suicidal thoughts or attempts, their journey typically begins in the emergency room. But what happens next?
Intermountain Healthcare’s mission is “Helping People Live the Healthiest Lives Possible.” One of the ways they strive to achieve this is by providing resources to individuals who struggle with mental illness. Two of these resources are the Dixie Regional Behavioral Medicine Unit and Dixie Behavioral Access Center.
Jeremy Nielsen, a registered nurse at Dixie Regional Center, said acute crises can be brought on by family struggles, drugs or medicine, financial difficulties and trauma.
After an individual seeks help at the emergency room, they are put with a crisis worker along with a doctor. The crisis worker strives to get to know the individual, their history, what’s going on in the immediate and what may have triggered the acute crisis.
Based on the person’s immediate needs, the crisis worker will referred them to either the Behavioral Medicine Unit or the Access Center, both of which are located on the same campus.
The Behavioral Medicine Unit
The Behavioral Medicine Unit at Dixie Regional Center has been established for about 30 years. It is an “in-patient” unit containing 13 beds and offering a safe environment for individuals to seek help from a team of doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and social workers.
The duration of treatment can vary, from three to 14 days, although the average stay is roughly three to five days.
A typical day begins with a couple different therapy groups led by a therapist or a social worker teaching life skills and tools that are key to helping patients work through a mental illness. In the afternoon there is recreational or art therapy, followed by exercise therapy consisting of light exercises, stretches and workouts.
Before the individual leaves the unit, they are connected with a local counselor or therapist, and an appointment is made for a follow-up within seven days of being discharged.
The Dixie Behavioral Access Center has been in operation for a couple years. It is open 24 hours and is targeted to individuals who need short-term help and may not require three to five days of observation. The goal is to help individuals be discharged within 24 hours of admittance.
“Through intervention, we expect most patients will be stabilized and back home in less than 24 hours, depending on the level of care required,” Dr. Ben Holt said in an Intermountain Healthcare newsletter.
At the Access Center, individuals will meet with crisis workers to talk through the issue. They can meet with a psychiatrist for medications if needed, as well as a peer specialist that can help the individuals learn skills and create a Wellness Recovery Action Plan program. WRAP is a self-designed program where individuals create their own wellness toolbox, learn about various triggers and warning signs and develop a plan for when crisis hits.
It is hoped that in the near future the Access Center will be able to take walk-ins in addition to patients who are referred.
What about the cost?
One of the barriers to seeking medical help is the financial costs.
Bailey McMurdie, Intermountain Healthcare Southwest Region communication specialist, said that as a nonprofit organization, Intermountain Healthcare offers many programs for financial assistance but that they focus on helping each individual get the help they need mentally and emotionally first.
After the individual is in a good place, Intermountain is available to help individuals apply for financial assistance programs if needed.
“Most of all, we are here to help individuals, regardless of their circumstances,” McMurdie said. “There is always hope and help available.”
Written by HEIDI BAXLEY, Iron County Prevention Coalition coordinator, and LAUREN MCAFEE, Cedar City Library in the Park grant and development officer.
About the “Mind Matters” Series
As the Mind Matters series continues, we will highlight several Southern Utah mental health providers and organizations, as well as success stories, but if you or someone you know is seeking help or resources now, go to the following websites:
- Intermountain Healthcare St. George psychiatry and counseling.
- Dixie Regional Behavioral Medicine Unit.
- Cedar City mental health provider list.
If you or someone you know needs helps immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911. There is help and hope available.
St. George News “Mind Matters” series aims to illuminate how mental illnesses affect society and how to maintain mental health.
Articles are contributed by Cedar City Library in the Park in partnership with the Iron County Prevention Coalition and will highlight available resources people may access in Southern Utah and online. However, if you have a success story you would like to share as part of the series, email Heidi Baxley at email@example.com or Lauren McAfee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: All the articles in the Mind Matters series
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