Rockford Fire, Rosecrance develop agreement to give patients another option for care

ROCKFORD (WREX) — If you’re having a mental health crisis and call 911, state law says Rockford paramedics have to take you to the emergency room before you can go to Rosecrance.

“That in between step is often unnecessary and not in the best interest of the client,” Dave Gomel, the President of Rosecrance, Inc says.

Last year, Rockford Fire says it got roughly 350 calls for people in mental health crisis. It says all of those cases could’ve skipped the emergency room. That’s why it along with Rosecrance asked the state for an exception.

So far, the Illinois Department of Public Health approved the move. It’s just waiting on approval from Rockford City Council.

“We’re going to be one of the first departments in the state to transport mental health patients to an alternative destination,” Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten says.

That destination is the Rosecrance Mulberry center if the patient wants to go there instead of an emergency room.

There, mental health experts and Rockford Fire say patients will be able to get the care they need.

“It’s a more suitable setting for the individual delivered by mental health professionals in a setting that is calming,” Gomel says.

But in order to make this happen, Rockford Fire says crews will have to undergo three to four hours of extra training.

That will include a list from Rosecrance, OSF and the Rockford Fire department made up of different indicators a patient might have when they are experiencing these mental health emergencies.

“Whether it be a bout of depression or a bit of hyper activity or extreme anxiety, any number of things,” Brian Park, the EMS coordinator for Rockford Fire says.

City council still needs to approve this new agreement between Rockford Fire and Rosecrance. It is scheduled to be heard in committee on Monday.

Andi TenBarge

Andi TenBarge

Reporter

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