Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Walk-In Behavioral Health Clinics Emerge as Potential Trend

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Walk-In Behavioral Health Clinics Emerge as Potential Trend

Article excerpt

Historically, if a person with behavioral health issues needed immediate attention, there were only two viable options: a trip to the emergency department or a phone call to a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Now, the emerging trend in walk-in behavioral health facilities is providing a potentially better alternative. Urgent Psych Care in the Houston area, and Rapid Access Center (RAC) and Medical Clinic in Eugene, Ore., recently began seeing patients who simply walk right in.

There are similar facilities in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and more such clinics may spring up in the near future, experts say.

Why now? The increase is in response to a variety of factors, including the return of military service personnel from overseas, awareness of mental health related to recent incidents of mass shootings, and heightened terrorism fears, says Urgent Psych Care CEO Troy Marsaw.

Another reason for the increasing need for access to service relates to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Oregon is one of 29 states that has adopted Medicaid expansion and seen an increase in demand, driving the need for facilities like RAC.

"Our Coordinated Care Organization (CCO) received an influx of 90,000 newly eligible individuals who are seeking healthcare services," RAC's executive director, Susie Dey, says.

Oregon is unique in that it offers CCO healthcare delivery models that bring together local entities to deliver comprehensive care and coverage for people eligible for state Medicaid. CCOs must be accountable for outcomes and have one budget that grows at a fixed rate for mental, physical and dental care. CCOs are governed by partnership among providers and stakeholders who share financial responsibility and risk. RAC is a partner in the Trillium CCO group.

"Since implementation of the ACA, the 16 CCOs in Oregon have the option to cover medical services, and our CCO is a strong supporter of that," Dey says.

Rising need in Houston

In Houston, Urgent Psych Care also was launched due to the growth in demand in the community, according to Marsaw.

"Even today, there are simply not enough practitioners or facilities to handle this demand. Those in need of services are waiting months to address urgent psychological healthcare needs," Marsaw says.

With the capacity to treat up to 30 patients a day, the Houston clinic is currendy open six days a week, but Marsaw has a long-term plan to expand it to a 24-hour facility. Clinicians treat patients from all walks of life including professionals as well as the homeless and indigent, he says.

Urgent Psych Care currendy employs nine professionals: a medical director, licensed psychiatrist, two licensed psychologists, three licensed professional counselors, one medical assistant and one billing specialist, as well as two security guards. …

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