“There is no greater force for change than a community discovering that it cares” – Margaret J. Wheatley
As we continue to see more and more patients at our hospitals in Humboldt County, we, along with our patients in Providence, are reminded that our nursing staff continue to do amazing things in going above and beyond to meet the needs of our community Incredible compassion and extraordinary work. A constant reminder of the influx of patients who pass through our Emergency Department (ED) doors at Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Providence Redwood Memorial Hospital Systemic needs for behavioral health infrastructure on the North Coast.
Since joining Providence as CEO in August 2022, I have quickly learned in regular listening sessions and walk-ins with our ED paramedics and physicians that patients with behavioral health needs experience multiple mental health crises (such as potential harm to the health of themselves or others), and require the professional support of those who can best meet their higher-level professional needs in a behavioral health treatment center. Unfortunately, given the enormous resource constraints faced by our existing, hard-working community behavioral health teams, and the gaps in resource availability, ultimately, the majority of these patients are presently present in our Emergency Departments because they can be received Auxiliary locations are limited. According to our ED paramedics and physicians, this influx of behavioral health patients typically reduces our ED capacity (our ability to care for all patients waiting for service) by 30% to 45%.
The voices of our team and countless voices from our amazing community partners have been the catalyst for the development of a strong multi-organizational collaboration (public and private) focused on advancing community-based solutions to ensure these behavioral health patients respond with compassion and Dignity gets the right care in the best possible position.
Joining community leaders Connie Beck, Connie Stewart, Emi Botzler-Rogers, David Neal and others, this week (Tuesday) had a great opportunity to present a proposal to the Board of Supervisors on the new Comprehensive Crisis Triage and Treatment Center Innovative proposals in our community. The vision is to provide everything from physical exams for those experiencing a mental health crisis, to specialty care within the facility, including bed combinations for crisis triage and stabilization units, crisis residential units for mental/behavioral health, and Another crisis housing unit with space for patients with substance use disorders and potential beds for a sobriety center.
Not only will this solution serve as a compassionate front door to the behavioral/mental health crisis needs of our community, but it will support us by alleviating the many incidents of workplace violence our heroic paramedics face every day in our ERs and other units Local hospitals, as well as helping to reduce wait times for all of our ED patients to see timely care as the extra capacity is available to all in our community.
After hearing impassioned words from the team making this collaborative proposal – and several of our Providence ED nurses (Pam Collver, RN and Katherine Smith, RN) and Medical Director (Dr. James Goldberg) in public comments Those experiences expressed in – Attendees left the discussion with a sense of collective urgency to advance this positive change for our community, in addition to a shared excitement for the future.
Every one of our enthusiastic Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voiced their strong support by voting unanimously to approve a letter of support for the grant application and authorize an initial county fund commitment of up to $3 million for the initiative. With the generous support of BOS, the next step will be to apply for additional state BHCIP funding, over $15 million, to help bring this much needed community-based and collaboratively developed solution to the crisis with dignity for all who need it Triage and treatment facilities.
This huge improvement reminds me of Margaret Wheatly’s famous quote. It strikes a common thread that brings a deep sense of gratitude and pride to all of us in Humboldt County. A simple but uncommon trait is woven into the fabric of who we are as a community; it is our unrelenting commitment to go out of our way to care for those who need our help most. We continue to demonstrate our tremendous capacity for positive change, born from a shared understanding of what makes our communities great — our amazing people.
We are truly stronger together.
Darian Harris is the Chief Executive Officer of Providence, Humboldt County.