Common Ground Sanctuary will open online emergency care for behavioral health


Metro Detroit residents who need urgent mental and behavioral health care can now get it without going to a hospital emergency room.

Common Ground Sanctuary is opening the region’s first virtual behavioral health emergency care in a bid to fill a huge gap in services.

“The weather is really good because there is such a need in our community right now,” said Heather Rae, president and CEO of Common Ground, a nonprofit 24-hour crisis services agency. out of 24 which is already extending care. supplies more than 88,000 people at the Pontiac and Royal Oak sites.

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“The pandemic has caused so much stress and anxiety for so many people. For those who were already struggling, it has led them to really need to seek treatment.

“It’s pushing the demand for services to a level that needs to catch up with people saying, ‘I need help. I do not feel good. I am alone. I am anxious. I’m depressed. ‘am stressed.’ “

But finding health care has been a challenge for many in a state that lacks psychologists, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and others trained to provide behavioral health services as demand for their help has increased. so dramatically.

“We regularly get calls to our call center saying, ‘Can you refer me to a doctor or a therapist? We can’t find one. There’s a waiting list.’

“Even those with insurance, very good insurance, have trouble finding behavioral health care.”

A January report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan suggests that up to 40% of Michiganders with behavioral health issues do not receive treatment. And about 80% of people with substance use disorders do not receive care.

Adults who can’t get an appointment to see a psychologist or psychiatrist to refill prescriptions or get help before a mental health issue or behavioral health problem turns into a crisis can now use Common Ground emergency care, Rae said.

“They can’t come in to see their doctor for three weeks, sometimes even longer. … There is a need for on-demand services. No appointments are needed, and we will have day and evening hours, including weekends.”

Common Ground Crisis Specialist Brooke Seagraves works through a checklist while recording a call to the 24/7 crisis line which she answered at Common Ground in Pontiac on July 28 2021.

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While stigma has long been a reason many people in need haven’t sought help, that’s changing, Rae said, and it’s also driving demand even higher.

“It’s much more common now for people to say, ‘I have to take care of my whole self, that means not only my physical health, but also my mental well-being. “, Rae said.

To meet this ever-increasing need for services, Common Ground Sanctuary also plans to add a physical behavioral health emergency care location.

“At this time we are looking at properties in Southfield, but we have not signed a lease yet,” said Heidi Warrington, head nurse. “That way we can capture the tri-county area. It’s a denser population.”

The organization aims to reach an additional 15,000 people in its first year through its virtual and physical urgent care sites.

“It could be a lot higher than that,” Rae said. “It’s never been done in our area before, so we’re sort of pioneers in a lot of ways. More accurate projections don’t currently exist in our area. We just don’t know how many people are going to be .”

Initially, the virtual emergency care service, which is expected to open on Monday, will only be available to adults 18 and older, but that is also expected to expand rapidly, Rae said.

“We think it’s best for the service, in terms of ramp-up time … to start with adults and then add children,” she said. “We say that in three months we should be ready to add children.”

The cost of an urgent care assessment is $220, with psychotherapy fees ranging from $75 to $125, depending on the length of the session. For the insured, the disbursements could be lower. Common Ground urges patients to check with their insurance provider to verify coverage in advance.

Wait times should be minimal on the Common Ground online portal, Warrington said.

“We want this total visit to be under 90 minutes,” she said. “Just log in and you’ll enter the virtual waiting room like an urgent care ward. Then the master’s degree clinician will review your case and take you to a nurse practitioner right away. “

Common Ground Crisis Specialist Brooke Seagraves speaks with a person while working on a 24/7 crisis line at Common Ground in Pontiac on July 28, 2021.

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Urgent care is not for people in real crisis who are feeling suicidal, Warrington said.

“We aim to treat a lot of anxiety, depression, things like that,” she said. “If anyone needs emergency service, we want to be explicit that people should always call 911.”

People in crisis can also call or text the Common Ground Resource and Crisis 24-hour hotline at 800-231-1127.

To access online behavioral health emergency care, go to the Common Ground website,, and click on the purple emergency care icon to enter the room. waiting to be treated by a clinician. The service will be available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Contact Kristen Shamus: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.

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