Providence seeks mental health clinicians to respond to 911 calls
PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – The city of Providence is moving forward with plans to send social service workers to some 911 calls, issuing an appeal on Tuesday to organizations that can place clinicians in the security department public.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks a non-profit organization that can provide a clinician to respond to calls alongside the Providence Fire Department, and another that will work in the city’s dispatch center, which responds to 911 calls.
The first clinician would respond to emergency calls alongside emergency medical technicians from the Providence Fire Department, using the existing mobile health van launched in 2019. The social worker would provide on-site assistance to the person in crisis , help with de-escalation and connecting the person to treatment, in accordance with the PD.
The second dispatch center clinician would provide crisis counseling over the phone to people calling 911 with mental health, addiction or other issues. The person would also determine whether to send in the mobile health van or the police, depending on whether or not there is a risk of “threat of harm to others”.
The program is part of a pilot launched last year that aims to deflect some police calls, freeing them up to respond to violence and criminal activity, while directing social services to people calling 911 for issues such as mental health crises and substance abuse. abuse.
Mental health calls to Providence police increased 92% from 2018 to 2020, according to department data.
Part of the goal of the diversion program is to reduce reliance on calling 911 for these issues, by connecting people with the appropriate social service agency that can help them.
The new RFP was developed based on recommendations from a report commissioned last year from Providence Center and the Family Service of Rhode Island.
Mayor Jorge Elorza earmarked $600,000 for the pilot program in the current-year budget, which was passed by city council last summer. The RFP says the nonprofit selected to provide the services would receive $105,000 through the end of this fiscal year — which ends June 30 — and an additional $320,000 for the following fiscal year. , pending the approval of the next budget.
“We are committed to challenging the way things have always been done and finding new solutions that better meet our needs,” Elorza said in a press release. “Having designed this program with input from key stakeholders, this RFP will enable us to provide more and better treatments for people experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis.
The city is also adding two staff members to City Hall to manage and evaluate the new program within the Office of Healthy Communities: Silaphone Nhongvongsouthy has been named behavioral health program manager, and Rachel Ferrara will be the data and of the assessment, according to the Elorza office.
The mayor had also planned to add a new police major to the department to oversee diversion services, but his choice for the job — civilian Michael Stephens, the city’s director of recreation — has been stalled for months amid a dispute between Elorza and City Council leaders over the job title and salary.