Crisis team gets more help

The Police and Crisis Team is adding two more members to assist people with mental illness connect to appropriate services.

The Police and Crisis Team is adding two more members to assist people with mental illness connect to appropriate services.

“Red Deer (Primary Care Network) and RCMP felt very strongly that this a program that just can’t stop,” PCN executive director Lorna Milkovich said on Wednesday.

“Almost from the get-go, it was successful. People saw the need for it and also word spread about it quickly.”

The 15-month PACT pilot project, that partners a police officer with a psychiatric nurse, started in December 2011.

In March at the end of the pilot, police and the PCN hoped Alberta Health Services would take over the program. That didn’t happen so the RCMP and PCN will continue to fund the team.

“We actually realized we need a second team so we’re currently recruiting for a second psychiatric nurse and the police are finding a second member,” said Milkovich about the newest team expected to be at work in the fall.

The team will respond to police calls involving people with mental-health issues, assess them, and when appropriate divert them from the hospital’s emergency department to other community venues and agencies such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, Central Alberta Family Services, Parkland Youth Homes, and others.

In the first 15 months of the program, police received 1,500 mental health-related 911 calls. The lone PACT team responded to 30 per cent of the calls and worked with 400 clients.

Eighty-five per cent of PACT clients already had mental health diagnoses or identified issues. Fifty-seven per cent of clients were men.

Eleven per cent of clients were taken to hospital and 25 per cent were connected to other agencies.

Calls primarily dealt with people thinking about suicide, which was often related to substance abuse, depression and anxiety, and troublesome behaviour.

Problems often stemmed from domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse and employment difficulties.

The cost to the RCMP and the PCN totalled $237,000 for 15 months. and for every dollar spent, it saved the criminal justice and health care systems $3.66 combined.

Milkovich said assessment of individuals by PACT meant only those who needed hospitalization were brought to emergency which saved the hospital money on assessments.

“Both the health system and community agencies identified that PACT really alleviated already taxed resources in the community.

“Even the hospital staff recognized that some people coming in repeatedly were getting help they needed through PACT,” said PCN program evaluator Donna Thompson.

Milkovich said the connections clients are making in the community are longer term and that’s important.

Red Deer City RCMP Insp. Lawrence Aimoe said PACT has some amazing ripple effects and is a value not only to the community, but also front-line police.

“Sometimes it’s just something as simple as needing food, or feeling destitute, and being able to connect them with the place to go to help them.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Albertans knit and sew for Australia’s wildlife: baby kangaroos, bats, wallabys

Rescued and orphaned baby kangaroos in Australia, may not have their momma’s… Continue reading

Boil water advisory issued for Red Deer’s Terrace Park area

A boil water advisory is in place for Red Deer’s Terrace Park… Continue reading

New post-secondary funding model in Alberta tied to performance measures

CALGARY — Alberta’s new funding model for post-secondary institutions ties some of… Continue reading

Armed Forces arrive in St. John’s as state of emergency stretches into fourth day

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A state of emergency is stretching into its… Continue reading

Growing natural-disaster response risks dulling Army’s fighting edge: Commander

OTTAWA — Canada’s top soldier is warning that as the Army gets… Continue reading

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Putin may not be immortal, but he’s not going anywhere

Five years ago, somebody posted photographs on the internet showing a man… Continue reading

Oil and gas industry needs to do more to address climate change, IEA report says

CALGARY — A report by the International Energy Agency says the oil… Continue reading

Special Canada-China parliamentary committee to hold first meeting in Ottawa

OTTAWA — A new special parliamentary committee created to examine Canada’s fraught… Continue reading

Crowd of thousands clogs downtown Richmond to defend right to bear arms

RICHMOND, Va. — Tens of thousands of protesters, many decked out in… Continue reading

Poll suggests some don’t think Canada should send troops to stop genocide

OTTAWA — A new poll suggests there are some in this country… Continue reading

Former 1,500 specialist Elmore likely Tokyo-bound after breaking marathon mark

When Malindi Elmore reinvented herself as a marathon runner a year ago,… Continue reading

Canada’s Shapovalov upset by Fucsovics in first round of Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov lost a lengthy four-set match with… Continue reading

Most Read