People experiencing a mental health crisis can bypass Flagler Hospital’s emergency room and opt for the new CAIR Center instead.
The Crisis Assessment Intervention and Referral Center offers mental and behavioral health services to youth and adults in a more peaceful setting, Flagler Health + officials said.
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The goals of the CAIR Center include reducing “Baker Act unnecessary admissions” and helping people avoid the criminal justice system, as well as reducing recurring hospital visits “while providing those in health crises a supportive and accessible environment for receiving support, “according to a press release from Flagler Health +.
The center has been in operation for several weeks, but on Thursday morning Flagler Health + officials celebrated the inauguration with the ribbon cutting of the center at 300 Health Park Blvd., Suite 1008. Officials called on the media and others to do a tour.
At the ribbon cutting ribbon, Flagler Health + CEO Carlton DeVooght said the center helps fill a gap in coverage in the community. He said many people are not getting the care they need due to a lack of mental and behavioral health services in Florida.
“By working with our partners such as (EPIC Behavioral Healthcare and St. Augustine Youth Services), we have seen that we need to provide a less traumatic entry point for those in need of mental health services,” DeVooght said.
An open house for the general public is scheduled from 10:00 to 12:00 on June 19th. People can learn more about the center at flaglerhealth.org/CAIR or by calling 904-819-5204.
In addition to providing assessments and crisis interventions, the center provides referrals and helps establish long-term connections with suppliers, according to Flagler Health +. The center also helps connect people with other resources they may need.
“Often, the struggle for mental health is linked to other needs of the family – food insecurity, lack of stable housing, difficulty in obtaining prescriptions and more,” according to the release. “The CAIR Center then uses Care Connect +, a program established by Flagler Health +, to connect patients to other critical resources. Care Connect then helps clients navigate the process to clarify questions, remove barriers and connect patient to health care services. social assistance, as needed. “
People don’t need to have insurance to get help from the CAIR Center, said Valerie Duquette, head of the behavioral health department at Flagler Health +.
“This is not a factor for us,” he said. “We are not worried about a payment source. We are here to provide community service.”
Vincent Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of Flagler Health +, said about 1 in 5 Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition this year, a statistic provided by the nonprofit Mental Health America. He called the center “a huge boon” to the community.
“It’s an opportunity to take care of people you wouldn’t otherwise care for,” he said. “And there has never been more time and need for mental health care to be at the forefront and center of everything we do for our community.”
The state of Florida budget includes about $ 8 million for the CAIR Center, DeVooght said.
Videos and artwork posted around the center encourage relaxation with beach scenes, butterflies, and other serene images.
In the center are murals from the local company Heartspace Art, one called “Look Within”, which encourages people to “breathe,” and another called “The Journey Home”, which features butterflies flying near a seated woman.
“(Heartspace Art) basically came up with the concept based on what we were asking, that we wanted the space to be relaxing and welcoming and a place where people could feel comfortable,” Duquette said.
People who go to the emergency room for mental health problems can be faced with more stress.
“There are people coming in and out,” Duquette said. “Various levels of trauma. Various levels of injury and disease. A lot of confusion. A lot of noise. A lot of stimulation. And that can be overwhelming for people.”
He added, “This place allows people who don’t need those hospitalization services to come and have a different environment. It’s calmer. It’s relaxed. It’s inviting. There’s not all that added stimulation.”
The center has separate areas for young people and adults. The staff includes three therapists and three recruiters, as well as staff to help with the reception and coordination of care, Duquette said. The center plans to add psychiatrists.
The center is for outpatient services, so there are no beds. If people need hospitalization, the CAIR Center team works with the emergency room to move adults there, Duquette said. If children need hospitalization or more help than can be provided by the CAIR Center, the team works to coordinate their care with St. Augustine Youth Services or to transfer them to a Jacksonville facility.
People also use the CAIR Center for regular counseling sessions, Duquette said.
“We are here right now Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 18:00,” Duquette said. “You can come in. You can call us. You can find information on our website about us and how to reach us. You can introduce yourself. … We want you to come and hopefully we will expand it by the end of the year at least until the weekends. and possibly in our 24/7 business. “