The good news is that hospitals around Springfield have made efforts to provide faster care to those who need it. Mercy added a Behavioral Health Unit inside its emergency department for psychiatric patients and expanded its mental health services through telemedicine. CoxHealth increased its “psych safe” beds from four to 14 and expanded its addiction treatment services, and Burrell opened the Behavioral Crisis Center in June 2020.
The new walk-in clinic provides care to anyone who needs it. “It’s like an urgent care for mental health,” Davis says. If there was doubt of the need for a clinic like this, Davis points to the 800 patients treated at the clinic in the first eight months. “Fifty percent of calls are related to substance abuse,” Davis says. “We can connect individuals to safe detox settings, and we have crisis beds for outpatient psych assistance. The key element is if you’re feeling an urgent need for care or have severe depression or anxiety or thoughts of suicide, you can connect with us.”
One of the goals of the clinic is to reduce the number of psych patients who would normally visit the ER as their first point of care. “In a hospital setting, you can wait two to three hours, and that’s lost time,” Davis says. “We’ll get you connected with the right level of care.” Not only is this kind of clinic a benefit to patients who need mental health services right away or at least help being directed to the best treatment path, it’s also a help to hospitals that traditionally shoulder much of the burden. “At the Mercy ED, there’s been a 38% decrease in behavioral health visits because they’re coming to us as their first line,” Davis says. Both Mercy and CoxHealth financially contribute to Burrell’s Behavioral Health Clinic; Davis says it’s an example of how key players in Greene County are working together to address the need for more mental health services. But there’s one new way Burrell has upped its mental health offerings that was never part of the plan—the launch of its Be Well Community.
If you followed along with Burrell at all during the height of the pandemic, you might have noticed Burrell’s daily Facebook live sessions when its team members would lead viewers through meditations, mental health check-ins and de-stressing exercises. These sessions actually started out as an in-house service for the Burrell team who was under tremendous pressure when COVID arrived. “Our leadership team was in meetings all day every day to get everything ready [for COVID], and somewhere in there [Davis] looked around and asked, ‘What are we doing to take care of our staff?’” says Matt Lemmon, marketing director at Burrell.
This simple question led to the creation of an in-house support and wellness program that led a daily 30-minute Zoom session. “It was about being mindful and allowing space to grieve,” Lemmon says. Eventually, the team at Burrell decided this same daily livestream could be helpful to other people who were struggling with stress and grief because of COVID, so Burrell launched the Be Well Community and started doing Facebook livestreams at 12:45 each day. “We started seeing overnight the hunger for more behavioral health support and information,” Davis says. “The number of people signing in live grew, and we started seeing the number of people watching videos later grow, and then we saw people from around the country and world watching.”
The Be Well Community has been so successful that Burrell now teams up with businesses to use the program in their offices. “We see this as a new front door to Burrell,” Davis says. “You don’t have to get care with us to have a connection with us.”