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Summit County Council Debates Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team

The Summit County Council on Wednesday began to discuss the concept of a “Mobile Crisis Outreach Team for mental-health responses. County Council Member Kim Carson, also a member of the Health Board, says she’s incredibly excited about the “MCOT” program, done in conjunction with Wasatch County. 


Carson said that, although Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies have trained to deal with mental-health calls, this new team can take their response to another level.


“With the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, we have 100 percent participation in the crisis-intervention training for them, but they are not trained psychiatrists or clinicians,” Carson said. “And so to have this team of professionals that can come in and provide that support, and hopefully deter somebody from a quick in-and-out trip to an ER where they might not get the long-term follow-up and care that they need. This is just really important, and studies have shown that communities that have operating MCOTs have recorded upwards of a 51 percent reduction in repeat visits for these individuals.”


The three-member team would include a clinician, a support specialist, and a psychiatrist who would likely not be on scene but whose role would be crucial.


“And then, depending on the level of the crisis, a decision would be made, in conjunction with or in consultation with a psychiatrist that—they’re an off-site participant in the MCOT—the determination would be made on what type of intervention that person needs at that time,” Carson said. “They may be able to take care of it on-site, with follow-up to counseling. Or it may require that they are transported to, for instance, Uni down in Salt Lake.”


The county’s Behavioral Health Director, Aaron Newman, pointed out another issue. He said their department is sometimes called on to serve Medicaid recipients living at the northern edge of Wasatch County—in neighborhoods such as Black Rock and Hideout. Those cases fall to Summit County, which is more in proximity than Heber.


Carson said that MCOT will be a better response, since it also includes Wasatch Behavioral Health. And it will save money for Summit County.


“The actual location of the MCOT team will be in Summit County. And so you will have counselors from Wasatch Behavioral Health,” Carson said. “And of course, they’re not always out on call, so they’ll be available for providing treatment to individuals. So when we have those people from Wasatch County that live in that sliver, east side of Jordanelle Reservoir, they’ll be able to get services from Wasatch Behavioral Health, and they’ll in turn be able to bill Medicaid for those services. So that’ll be huge, because—I don’t have the exact number of what that cost is to Summit County. But it is significant.”

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