Local providers are forging ahead with a revised approach to mental health care in northwest Illinois. The system was created after a major state facility was closed.
It was a little more than a year ago when the state closed the Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford. Money saved from that action was used to establish a new network of care that covers several counties. The goal was to focus more on community-based services.
The Rosecrance organization played a key role by opening a triage center in Rockford, where people in crisis can be stabilized. Officials hope that approach avoids sending people to the ER. Residential units were also set up for those who need extra care. Officials say providers across the nine-county network have also received funding for crisis response.
Robin Garvey is with the northern Illinois chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She applauds what groups like Rosecrance have done. She says anytime these patients can avoid being sent to the ER is great. But she says more needs to be done.
“We need more capacity for adult beds. We need more capacity for kids' beds,” Garvey said.
And Garvey says they still worry that people who need the services of a state facility have to travel a great distance to get access to such help.
Mary Anny Abate is with Rosecrance, a non-profit involved with the new care network. She notes that only a small percentage of people their triage facility has screened have had to go that route. She says it speaks to the effectiveness of this new model.
“It really has allowed people so many more options. So many levels of care,” Abate said.
Abate says in the first-year, the triage center has screened roughly 1,500 people. Nearly 60-percent of those people were stabilized and sent home, rather than being admitted to a residential unit or a hospital.