written by Stacy Kuwahara
In response to an ever-growing need for a welcoming, recovery-oriented program to provide emergent and urgent services to those in crisis, Kern County Mental Health implemented the Crisis Walk-in Clinic (CWIC) in April. Initially addressing how to manage the significantly increased admissions at the Psychiatric Evaluation Center (PEC) Unit, the decision was made to start the CWIC unit at 8:00am on a Thursday morning and by 5:00pm there was a functional unit operating out of the conference room and lobby of Mary K. Shell.
The CWIC has been in operation ever since, transitioning out of the Mary K. Shell conference room and into the space the CWIC originally occupied. Staffed by volunteers from the entire system of care, the CWIC’s establishment and operation has been a truly collaborative, system-wide service team!
Still under “construction,” the vision for the CWIC is to establish a voluntary unit that is a welcoming, inviting and recovery oriented for individuals who need linkage to treatment providers, community resources and further crisis interventions. CWIC staff engage clients served by identifying their strengths and needs to collaborate in active discharge planning while addressing the stressors that caused the crisis. Many of the CWIC staff have lived experience, allowing them to connect and provide hope to individual served in a unique and recovery oriented manner.
The CWIC currently takes referrals directly from PEC and, under specific circumstances, MET. Staff will provide a full menu of mental health services, including screening, assessment, and other specialty services as indicated. Individuals who are already open to the system of care can be provided with needed support in following-up with their providers. CWIC staff will also be updating respective providers when a client is admitted so they can increase outpatient services as needed.
Recognizing the crisis as an opportunity for change, CWIC staff engage individuals not currently open to treatment to assist them in considering their ongoing needs and support them in becoming linked to services. Assisting clients to have a better understanding of what may be helpful in addressing their mental health needs is a primary focus for CWIC staff. A close collaboration with the Access and Assessment team has allowed expedited access to services for those in crisis.
Many clients struggle with ongoing substance use and those issues are often a primary focus for those served at the CWIC and in the PEC. CWIC collaborates with both the GATE team and the Crisis Addiction Counseling Team, as both teams are providing on-site screening and linkage to those served at the CWIC.
To provide a warm, welcoming, recovery-oriented setting which promotes a sense of acceptance and safety, allowing for improved engagement, assessment and discharge planning.
To refer individuals to appropriate treatment providers and community resources, allowing them to begin the recovery process.
To reduce recidivism and unnecessary hospitalizations of individuals who could be better served by an outpatient provider by providing expedited linkage to mental health and substance use services.
The CWIC will become an integral bridge in our network of care, assisting individuals in their progress toward recovery. The CWIC truly has been an example of collaborative team-work and of what can be accomplished with a shared vision and purpose!