October 20, 2023 by
Lucy Gardner Carson
Rachel Lee Cummings, M.P.H.’20, executive director of Counseling Service of Addison County
(OCTOBER 20, 2023) Rachel Lee Cummings, M.P.H.’20, executive director of Counseling Service of Addison County, spoke to VT Digger about Interlude, a “living room” model of mental health urgent care in Middlebury that opened in August 2023. An example of a new approach that provides a quiet place outside the hospital for people seeking care during a mental health or substance use crisis, the concept aims to reroute as many people as possible from the emergency room and link them directly to organizations that provide counseling and psychiatric services. Interlude—and another example, The Access Hub, which opened in October 2023 in Montpelier—are being developed in response to a widespread desire for community-based urgent care, seeded by federal funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan made available to support community-based programs.
“We’re really trying to understand: Can we meet people’s needs in different settings?” Cummings said.
The agencies know that these new programs won’t keep everyone experiencing a mental health crisis out of the emergency room; there will still be people for whom their medical needs or the severity of their symptoms may make the hospital the best place. But by providing urgent care options in the community, there is a better chance that more people will be seen and treated before their illness reaches that stage.
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