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About 20 Bexar County agencies band together to improve mental health care

August 20, 2018

Dozens of health professionals, community leaders and law enforcement officials gathered Monday for the formal launch of mental health collaborative that aims to help individuals in the midst of a psychiatric crisis.

The Southwest Texas Crisis Collaborative has been in the works for nearly two and a half years, after a group of health professionals and law enforcement officials recognized the need for an integrated system of mental health care.

“This is a pivotal and transformative moment for our health care system,” said Marc Raney, interim CEO of Methodist Healthcare Ministries, which is helping fund the initiative. “This will have a tremendous benefit for our community.”

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Initially, the collaborative is funding five different initiatives before it plans to expand. Some of the programs have been in existence for nearly a year. Others are still developing. They include:

A technology platform that allows all participating organizations to develop and access a community treatment plan. This helps combine social, financial and local community resources for patients who frequent crisis services.

A computer system that allows law enforcement officers to see in real-time which facilities have open beds for patients experiencing a mental health crisis.

The addition of a paramedic to the San Antonio Fire Department’s Mobile Integrated Health Team. The paramedic will be stationed at Haven for Hope, San Antonio’s largest homeless shelter, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., when health care resources at the campus are limited. The city of San Antonio receives more 911 calls from Haven for Hope than any other address in the city, the fire department said.

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The launch of a transitional housing program for individuals with mental health diagnoses transitioning out of jail.

The new collaborative is run by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, the agency designated by the Department of State Health Services to maintain the regional trauma and emergency healthcare system for 22 counties in Southwest Texas, including Bexar County.

“I think this is an incredible opportunity for our community,” said Rose Rodriguez, who oversees the behavioral health program at Nix Health.

Emilie Eaton is a criminal justice reporter in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | eeaton@express-news.net | Twitter: @emilieeaton

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