By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Curry Community Health (CCH) Behavioral Health Director Erin Porter, facing criticism from advocate Gordon Clay, said Thursday that CCH was investigating a recent incident in which, according to Clay, a person having a mental health crisis was turned away at CCH and incorrectly sent to Curry General Hospital for services they do not provide.

The person was then sent to Coos Bay, evaluated by a social worker there and told to wait for a doctor.

Clay, addressing the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Board, said the person in crisis waited five hours and left without being treated. Overall, the person sought help for 15 hours.

“It is our responsibility to be a safety net,” Porter said.

“What is going to be done?” Clay said. “Where do we tell people to go? Why is there not a piece of paper, a protocol, given to providers to guide people through the process?”

“Some confusion occurred and we need to fix it,” Porter said. “I need people to come and talk to me about these kinds of problems. We only want to help people and do what we can to support them.”

CCH is reaching out to people and working to revise its protocols, especially those related to its crisis line and walk-in hours, according to Porter.

AllCare’s Lana McGregor emphasized the need for this information because Curry County is one of the few places where emergency services at the hospital do not cover mental health crises.

Board members met Thursday to discuss action plans for the first goal they set at a previous meeting –– suicide prevention and engagement.

Porter reported CCH planned to distribute postcards including contact information for mental health support during September as part of National Suicide Prevention Month.

“CCH was also offering Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training,” she said. “But was struggling to get people to sign up.”

Classes to train law enforcement personnel in mental health first aid had not been held either, according to Porter, because not enough officers had signed up.

However, Porter said, CCH was working with the Brookings-Harbor School District to implement trauma informed care and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) training.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states the goal of ACEs and trauma informed care is to provide information about the effects of trauma and how to appropriately treat and build resiliency in those affected.

Advanced Health Chief Transformation Officer Lisa Hendricks reported training 10 master trainers in Coos and Curry Counties in the Neuroscience, Epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience (NEAR) Science curriculum developed by ACE Interface.

She said these master trainers will provide free NEAR trainings in Coos and Curry Counties to educate the public about the impacts of toxic stress as the result of adverse experiences in childhood and share the importance of building resilience.

The next phase will include Family Cafes designed to bring families and professionals together to talk about opportunities to reduce and prevent adverse childhood experiences and identify ways to increase protective factors.

Chair Connie Hunter noted the meeting was going overtime and suggested extending the next meeting and focusing on addictions programs, the group’s second goal.

“We need to continue to identify opportunities and initiatives that need to be put together in a final plan,” she said. “We will continue looking forward and improving services for the county.”

Program updates

Porter reported that CCH, in conjunction with the county, was implementing the Sequential Intercept Model to divert inmates with mental health issues from jail and into mental health services as quickly as possible.

The goal is to get people out of jail and to the help they need, she said.

The Sequential Intercept Model model identifies five key points for intercepting individuals with behavioral health issues and linking them to services while preventing them from getting further entrenched in the criminal justice system, where they often cannot receive proper treatment, according to the SAMHSA.

CCH has increased the number of hours counselors provide to inmates in the jail as well, according to Porter.

Mental health summit

CCH Executive Director Ken Dukek and Porter agreed to attend the Veterans Mental Health Summit in Roseburg, Sept. 10. The number veterans in Curry County exceeds 25 percent of the population, according to Hunter.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com

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