Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Battle Creek series.
Urgent care in the Battle Creek area is expanding to include services focused on behavioral health.
Most individuals are familiar with urgent care facilities that offer immediate medical attention for anything from ear infections to broken bones. What may be less familiar is an emerging model of care for individuals in psychiatric crises.
In Spring 2021, Summit Pointe will begin offering this expanded model of care called First Step at a building at 175 College Street. By Spring, 2022 Summit Pointe
will be officially operating all of its services from the new location, which was purchased through a $750,000 from the Community Partners Chronister Fund and the Battle Creek Community Foundation, says Jeannie Goodrich, CEO for Summit Pointe.
“It is a change in how we deliver services,” Goodrich says. “This building affords me the opportunity to pivot to providing crisis-oriented services.”
Those services could include treating adults or children experiencing suicidal thoughts or someone with depression or anxiety. Goodrich says too often these individuals come to emergency rooms at local hospitals that don’t have staff with the expertise to adequately address their issues.
Being near the Bronson Battle Creek healthcare campus and Grace Health will enable hospital staff to direct these psychiatric patients to a Psychiatric Urgent Care Center that will occupy space in Summit Pointe’s new 26,000-square-foot location, which formerly housed labs operated by Bronson. Goodrich says she expects the urgent care center, known as First Step, to begin offering services this Spring.
In addition to referrals from hospitals, individuals will be able to come in on their own and receive immediate care without an appointment.
“We will be able to deliver an assessment and access to psychiatric services at the front door versus having to call and wait for an appointment,” Goodrich says. “We’re really trying to offer at the front door services that previously had to be scheduled. If someone has an immediate need that has to be met, we will meet it.
“One of my collaborative partners in this work is Bronson Battle Creek
. We were looking at how to establish protocols that would help people coming to an urgent care center for psychiatric needs. A lot of times people call and they have to wait for an appointment and that wait is a long time when they have psychiatric symptoms.”
Once that initial assessment is done, the individual seeking treatment will be linked to a network of providers in Albion, Battle Creek, and Marshall.
Goodrich says the appropriate provider will be determined based on an individual’s needs.
“The focus of First Step will be on anyone experiencing a mental concern,” she says. “We will serve them and provide some relief and other network providers can provide ongoing care. There are resources in the community for someone who comes in and has a mild psychiatric issue or the first onset of depression or anxiety.
“This is similar to when you got to an urgent care center. They serve your need and refer you back to your healthcare provider.”
The bigger picture
The local First Step initiative is made possible through the federal Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Expansion Act, which renews and expands funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Senator Debbie Stabenow was part of a bipartisan group of legislators who authored the Act announced in 2019. The clinics were established in Stabenow’s 2014 Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act.
In August of this year, Stabenow announced that 18 Michigan community mental health organizations, including Summit Pointe, had been selected as Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics with each receiving a portion of more than $54.45 million in new funding set aside for the clinics in Michigan.
Summit Pointe will receive $4 million over a two-year period from that pool of state funding, Goodrich says.
In earlier remarks Stabenow said, “About one in five people worldwide is affected by mental illness and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. These disorders do not discriminate – they affect our parents, our veterans, our friends, and our children. Our Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act is an important first step in getting more people the care they need at clinics close to home.”
These clinics are required to provide a comprehensive set of services including 24/7/365 crisis services, and immediate screenings, risk assessments, and diagnoses. They provide outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services, as well as coordination of care and partnerships with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veterans groups. In addition to Summit Pointe, there are clinics in Kalamazoo, Ludington, Muskegon, Auburn Hills, Lansing, Novi, Southgate, St. Clair County, and Washtenaw County.
“From a quality-of-care perspective, people should be able to access a psychiatric provider,” Goodrich says. “(Certified Community Behavioral Health) clinics and the federal grant place an emphasis on crisis-oriented services. Michigan is the demonstration state for this.”
Stabenow’s Expansion Act increases the number of eligible states from eight to 19 and gives the eight participating states two years of additional funding through Medicaid. Under the expansion, Michigan will have the opportunity to apply for funding for additional clinics and more comprehensive services for people across the state.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown a spotlight on the urgent need to fund community mental health and addiction services. Now, more Michigan families who are struggling during this pandemic will get critical behavioral health services they need close to home,” Stabenow says in a press release.
Though the pandemic has caused an increased need for such services, Goodrich says the plans to relocate to be closer to other healthcare providers have been under discussion for about three years and were not prompted by the spread of COVID-19. “This type of work is not something you can just change overnight. It’s been a two-to-three-year process,” Goodrich says.
Erick Stewart, Chairperson of the Bronson Battle Creek Community Partners Board, calls the relocation of Summit Pointe “a great community effort and community asset for Battle Creek on its Northside.” He says it is a “true community collaboration that couldn’t be possible without the strategic direction of the Chronister family’s legacy commitment to this community and its improvement in healthcare.”
“This is yet another collaborative approach to positively impacting the health of our citizens,” says Brenda L. Hunt, President & CEO of the Battle Creek Community.
While renovation work on the College Street building continues, patients who are not seeking the services offered at First Step will continue to be seen by staff at Summit Pointe’s current location. Those staff will transition over as the work is completed. Goodrich says Summit Pointe provides services for 9,000 people annually.
“Together with other health care providers and organizations, we are building strong collaborative networks to ensure that we are focused on innovation, quality care and not only meeting the needs of our community – but exceeding those needs and providing exceptional care,” Goodrich says. “It’s a positive step toward a healthier community.”