For more information, please contact:

Jeff Brucato, Public Relations Partner, Partners Behavioral Health Management

Office: 704-884-2564


A Better Place to go for Better Crisis Care

Lincoln County has a unique partnership to coordinate behavioral health crisis response. All too often, people having a behavioral health crisis end up in the emergency room (ER) when they don’t have a medical emergency. Hospital emergency departments are not equipped to treat people with a behavioral health crisis, mental illness, or substance use disorder. In most cases, people with this type of urgent need find themselves waiting hours for expensive, ineffective treatment.

The reason people end up in the ER is simple-they don’t know where else to go. And this is true for law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) when they respond to assist someone in crisis. When no other options are available, the only safe place open 24 hours a day for officers and EMTs to leave someone in care is the hospital.

In response, Partners BHM, Alexander Youth Network, Lincolnton Police Department, Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services, Monarch, Phoenix Counseling Center, Support Inc., and community members formed the Lincoln County Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Steering Committee. The committee leverages all possible resources for creating policies and processes to get citizens to the most effective care as fast as possible.

“This has afforded us the opportunity not only to develop a solid, foundational partnership with our local Behavioral Health providers, but it has allowed our Administration to understand the imperative services that are available to our rapidly exploding population of Mental Health/Substance Abuse patients within Lincoln County,” said Ronald D. Rombs, Director Lincoln County EMS.

The most important accomplishment for the committee was to create a location where people can go for immediate and useful behavioral health care. Partners funded building renovations and upgrades for a behavioral health urgent care function at the Lincoln Wellness Center.Partners also funded a partnership with Lincolnton Police Department to place officers at the wellness center during extended hours for secure law enforcement and EMS drop-offs. The result is a 29% reduction in unnecessary visits to the ER.

The steering committee also received a Mental Health Crisis Solutions Initiative mini-grant for Lincoln County EMS to pilot the Community Paramedicine Behavioral Health Crisis Response program. Grant funds paid for Crisis Intervention Team Training and reimbursed Lincoln County EMS when they transported people to crisis facilities in other counties when hospital level care could safely be avoided.

Lastly, the committee coordinates ongoing CIT training classes for law enforcement, 911 communication, and EMS staff. In May 2016, the entire full-time staff of Lincolnton Police Department, including Chief Rodney Jordan, became CIT trained. This training, along with community education, has steadily increased walk-in volume at the Wellness Center, increased calls from law enforcement and EMS for Mobile Crisis to respond in the community, and increased awareness of needs and services for citizens with behavioral health issues.

CAPTION: Lincoln County CIT Steering Committee members Shante Vines–Support Inc., Isaiah Matthews–Lincolnton Police Department, Candice Fewell–Monarch, Karen Creech–Partners,

Jennifer Greene–Partners (former director of Lincoln Wellness Center), Boyce Smith–Phoenix Counseling, and Chad Parlier–Lincoln EMS accepted the NC Outstanding CIT Partnership Award at the CIT Conference on February 7, 2017, at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, NC.

On Tuesday, February 7, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, North Carolina (NAMI NC) honored the Lincoln County CIT Steering Committee with the NC Outstanding CIT Partnership Award. This award exemplifies the importance of partnering with providers, families, those living with mental illness, law enforcement, and others in the community in support of CIT.The award ceremony was part of an annual CIT Conference held at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.

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