ST. PAUL, Minn. - A new urgent care is open in the Twin Cities. But this one is for mental health.
Adrienne Prehatney is excited it's here. She has recovered from depression, anxiety and chemical dependence and now she is a peer support specialist at the new Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health in St. Paul.
Prehatney said, "Instead of hearing that you can't, which I think a lot of people with mental health challenges hear a lot, I think it's really important to hear that you can."
Believed to be the first of its kind in the area, this Urgent Care fills a gap in the health care system. It has a call center and a walk in clinic.
Roger Meyer, project director with the Mental Health Crisis Alliance, said it has been a project ten years in the making. He said three counties, three hospitals, four health plans, two consumer groups and three state agencies made it a reality.
"Really what we're talking about is serving people in similar [ways] to the urgent care model that you experience in physical health," Meyer said. "And with the stigma around mental health, we really wanted to cut through that and say there is a place you can go that's just for you when you're having a mental health crisis."
Until now, patients with mental health issues visited emergency rooms and often endured long waits and could sometimes wait a few weeks to see a psychiatrist.
This urgent care is less expensive, patients get psychiatric care more quickly - within a few days - and there is follow up care as well.
The new Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health held its grand opening this week but it has actually been open since last September and in that time, Kirk Fowler, manager with Ramsey County mental health and human services, said it has seen a 300 percent increase in the number of people walking in to seek services.
"In the east Metro alone there's probably about 2,000 people a year that walk into the ER of a hospital voluntarily who could come to our center," said Fowler who oversees operations at the Urgent Care.
This new Urgent Care clearly meets a previously unmet need.
"We collect data from people when they come in as far as, 'Where would you have gone if you haven't come here?' And the top two? They would have done nothing or they would have gone to the emergency room," Meyer said. "So that tells us that we're taking some flow out of the emergency room but we're also meeting a need that wasn't being met."
Prehatney said it would have been nice to have something like this when she was struggling with mental illness. But she is happy it's here now. "It's just so important and it's so needed and it's so valuable," she said.
The Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health serves the residents of Ramsey, Dakota and Washington Counties, no matter their ability to pay.
They say no one is turned away.
Hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Their phone is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health can be reached at (651) 266-7900.
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