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Learning curve has been steep for Compass Health’s Crisis Access Point

Jefferson City’s Crisis Access Point receives about 1,000 visits in its first year by Joe Gamm | March 19, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.
Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: The large common room features a couch, an area in back with three recliners that have partitions between them, a lot of natural light, big screen TV and more.

Lori Fizer, the lead nurse at Compass Health's Crisis Access Point in Jefferson City, said there was a sharp learning curve for the first year of the city's new Crisis Access Point.

The point opened in January 2022. It served nearly 1,000 people during the first calendar year.

"It's been learning. Everybody was new. We didn't really know what to expect," Fizer said. "We didn't know how busy we would be."

But staff was adaptable and adjusted to clients' needs.

"We've seen a lot of repeat people," Fizer said. "When they come in, they're initially not ready. They just kind of want to test the waters and see what we offer. Then, they're back out."

On the other hand, there are people who are ready to engage in programs that would be beneficial for them, Fizer said. And they'll come in on their own.

Self-referral has been the most common means for people to come into the Jefferson city access point, according to Lauren Bruce, Compass Health Network senior director of crisis stabilization. In addition to its access point in Jefferson City, Compass Health operates sites in Raymore, Wentzville and Rolla.

Bruce said self-referrals accounted for 60 percent of referrals at one of the other sites.

Fizer said the Jefferson City access point receives a lot of patients who are suffering from substance use disorder, and many who are intoxicated when they arrive.

"They just realized -- it's either (submit themselves) now, or 'I'm going to end up dying,'" Fizer said. "They get serious about it."

The access point can help with medication-assisted symptom management of the detoxification process, she continued. The access point can give patients medications that are targeted toward the symptoms with which they present.

Staff tries to connect clients with in-patient treatment, should the client want it.

"If a bed becomes available, we will transport them," Fizer said.

Compass Health, she pointed out, operates in-patient programs in Clinton, Warrensburg and Linn Creek. Linn Creek is a 21-day program in Camden County.

After patients complete the program, they are "handed off" to an intensive outpatient team. The team's focus is to keep the patient connected to resources available within the Compass Health network.

A caseworker follows the patient for 30 days from the moment they arrive at the access point. That person also helps keep the patient on course toward sobriety or recovery.

"Sometimes (patients) go back to the street. And then, our caseworkers are out there pounding the pavement looking for them," Fizer said. "To make sure they're doing OK."

During the past year, some patients have come into the access point while experiencing psychosis. Staff get them stabilized.

Others have come into the access point, simply looking for assistance. They want to get their clothes washed, take a shower or get a meal because they're living on the street, she said.

"We do have substance use disorders that come through. We have some who are referred to us to get a 'bridge scrip' to hold them over until they can get with the provider upstairs (at the Compass Point offices)," Fizer said. "In any given day, it can be a variety of things. You just never know who's coming in or what's going on."

See also:

Experts say Crisis Access Point improving behavioral health results

Print Headline: Learning curve has been steep for Compass Health’s Crisis Access Point


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