Selectmen agrees on $250,000 for free assessments for New Canaan residents in mental health crisis


The coach agreed on Tuesday to allocate $250,000 of US bailout funds to a behavioral health assessment service to be run by Silver Hill Hospital. The three-hour assessments will be free for residents in the throes of a mental health crisis, who do not wish to go to the emergency room.

Even though New Canaan is “fortunate” to have more than 70 therapists, it can be difficult to find the “entry point into the system” when someone is struggling with mental health issues, said the President and Medical Director of Silver Hill Hospital, Andrew Gerber, to elected officials.

Gerber outlined the evaluation process to selectors, which will be conducted by the nonprofit psychiatric hospital, which focuses on behavioral health treatment.

“Virtually every family suffers from the effects of mental illness,” according to statistics, he said. “Mental health has really become one of the big crises facing not just our nation, our world, but also our cities. It doesn’t discriminate, it affects everyone.

Too often, Gerber said, families spend hours looking for a place to bring a loved one for assessment, and even specialists with “huge qualifications” tell them they “can’t handle or deal with a question of where to go. ”

Therefore, the city needs a place that “has a full set of services that can be offered to that person” and “will plug them into the system, so they can then get their care on an ongoing basis.” Gerber said.

His plans are for someone to answer calls 12 hours a day, six days a week, to help arrange a confidential in-person assessment within 48 hours.

The hospital would offer a free three-hour assessment to New Canaan residents because “mental health and addictions issues are complex.”

During assessments, patients spent an hour with one of the hospital’s 19 psychiatrists; obtain a medical evaluation from an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse; and meet with a social worker who would gather the information needed to come up with an “effective plan,” Gerber said.

The social worker will work with city officials and other agencies to ensure the patient can follow the plan, the hospital president added.

“These services exist in other parts of the country,” he said. “We need it urgently.”

The hospital chose to make this service free for residents since medical insurance companies only reimburse about 30% of urgent assessments, Gerber said. Sometimes people don’t seek appropriate mental health care out of fear of having to pay deductibles or phoning their insurer, he added. “We would remove those barriers.”

Gerber said he hoped for a “collaborative effort from the city.” Beginning with the meeting, Silver Hill Hospital plans to partner with New Canaan Department of Health and Human Services, Waveny Lifecare Network, Kids in Crisis, Youth Services, Adult and Senior Services, Community Foundation, Parent Support Group and The Lighthouse.

Although most of Silver Hill Hospital’s patients come from Fairfield County, Gerber considered the hospital “a national leader in providing mental health care, especially for people with complex and difficult-to-treat illnesses. “.

The budget allocation was developed in conjunction with the city over the past few months and assumes the hospital can provide a total of five assessments per week.

Gerber does not anticipate needing to add staff to fulfill the responsibilities of this partnership with the city.

Once ARPA funds are used, the hospital will work with the Community Foundation and other philanthropic organizations to ensure the program is sustainable, Gerber said.

By creating this program, “I believe we can quickly be leaders in the country and a model on how to provide urgent care assessments to our citizens,” Gerber said.


Comments are closed.