New York State plans to open a 24-hour emergency mental health care facility. Spectrum Health, currently the only Urgent Mental Health and Addiction Care Clinic in Erie County, has seen an increase in the need for services since opening.

WBFO’s Nick Lippa shares how the Urgent Mental Health and Addiction Clinic in Spectrum in Buffalo has performed so far

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a speech on the upcoming budget last week, stressed the need for more accessible mental health services.

“We’re opening 24-hour emergency centers. This is an unforeseen but very real by-product of COVID – it was the mental health, the stress, the isolation, the addiction problems, the domestic violence problems,” Cuomo said. “And we have to recognize it for what it is and we have to address it.”

Spectrum Health’s Urgent Care Clinic on 1280 Main Street in downtown Buffalo opened just before the pandemic began last year.

Kevin Beckman, general manager of the clinic for clinic operations, said there has long been an unmet need for quick access to quality care.

“We have case managers, we have a nurse, we have licensed therapists, and the whole purpose was to really get that person under one roof from a broad perspective,” Beckman said.

Anyone in need of mental health or addiction services can walk and receive care during the day. Beckman said they are studying the social determinants of health to help connect everyone who walks through their doors with other nonprofit services.

“When we started this adventure, the original name of the project was Holistic Health,” said Beckman.

According to Riannon Martin, the clinic’s program director, many essential medical services are linked.

“Trying to understand underlying mental health symptoms could be made worse by medical interventions,” Martin said. “Therefore, in my opinion, it is very important to be able to offer these services in order to understand and treat the individual as a whole.”

Both Beckman and Martin explain the importance of creating a welcoming presence as you enter.

“When the person walks in, we sort of have a saying, ‘How can I help you? ‘ Law? I am very interested that this is the leading statement for us, ”said Beckman.

“But we usually get a briefing from one of our admissions clinicians about the services, specifically what they’ll be doing for the services on the first day,” added Martin.

“The same day person can get a good assessment to see where they are because of the same day services. And if the topic at hand is housing, we have a dedicated case manager who can help you with that. If the problem at hand seems more medical, we have the nurse to help you, ”said Martin.

There is also a psychiatric nurse and psychologist available during opening hours.

With a diverse staff, Beckman recognizes concerns some may have about the urgent costs of personal medical care.

“Even if a person is unable to pay, we will not turn them away,” Beckman said.

Beckman said one population they got were local college students.

“We had a college student who was from the Far East and was unable to pay and ran out of medication and was unable to find their provider in their home country,” Beckman said. “We provided the script for it.” Individual who came back to the school counselor and said, “Hey, look, they were able to help us out here.” Now we get a reason from the counselors on campus when the students also need psychiatric medication. ”

Have a script filled. Get a physical one. Be connected with the right case worker for housing needs. Spectrum Health employees see a mental health and addiction emergency clinic as a bridge to accessibility.

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