Woman using tablet for behavioral health appointmentIt was a phone call no mom wants to receive.

Her distraught adult daughter told her she’d just tried to drive her car off a cliff, and was still considering ending her life.

Fortunately, this mom had heard about Providence’s new Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, located next to the Emergency Department at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. She brought her daughter in, and the team gave her immediate help, connected her to ongoing behavioral health services and ultimately stopped the young woman from committing suicide.

“My daughter said she had never felt heard before today,” the mom tearfully told a Providence caregiver. “Thank you for saving my daughter’s life.”

This is one of many touching testimonials about the impact BHUC services have made in just its first year of operation.

“This clinic is a world changer for individuals living with mental illness,” says Jordan Larkin-Sinn, a certified peer counselor at BHUC.

Providence’s BHUC services began in November of 2019, as Washington State’s first behavioral health urgent care center located on a hospital campus. The idea for this unique clinic came from the high number of patients who sought emergency care for mental health issues at Providence Everett, one of the state’s busiest emergency rooms.

Patients come into BHUC for a variety of reasons such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral health concerns.

“Most people checking in have a COVID-related reason to request to be seen,” notes Ganelle Swindler, a substance abuse disorder professional at the clinic.

Because of COVID-19, the center is seeing an increase in issues related to ongoing stress and anxiety.

“Anxiety and uncertainty affects every single person in this pandemic,” says Laura Knapp, Director of Behavioral Health at Providence. “The prolonged nature of this disaster makes it even more challenging to manage. “

When COVID first hit, and in-person care became increasingly difficult, the staff quickly began offering virtual and phone appointments.

“We want to eliminate any barriers to care,” says Knapp.

“We have seen an uptick already in behavioral health needs, complicated by a lot of grief and loss related to COVID-19.” —Laura Knapp, Director of Behavioral Health at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett

Because of grants and donor support, Providence General Foundation was able to pledge nearly $400,000 for the clinic’s first three years of operations.

BHUC staff members are grateful for the philanthropy that helped open the doors of this much-needed community resource.

“It is impossible to do this work without it,” said Knapp. “This clinic and other crucial behavioral health services rely on donors to stay afloat.”

Those involved in the inaugural year of the BHUC hope it might serve as a model for other communities.

“It’s a vital resource we are offering,” said Amy Leonard, a social worker at BHUC. “I believe it is an essential service that all communities should have.”


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