Laura Knapp (left), director of behavioral health, and counselor Jordan Larkin-Sinn (right) inside the new Behavioral Health Urgent Care Unit at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Laura Knapp (left), director of behavioral health, and counselor Jordan Larkin-Sinn (right) inside the new Behavioral Health Urgent Care Unit at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

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Urgent mental health care clinic, a rarity, opens in Everett

The new resource at Providence hospital is on the same campus as the emergency room.

Think of it as a walk-in clinic for adults with mental health issues.

They don’t have to make an appointment. Just walk in and ask for help.

This service, called behavioral health urgent care, is available at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. It’s thought to be the only such service in the state that’s part of a hospital campus, said Providence spokeswoman Cheri Russum.

As word has spread of the new service, Karen Schilde, a board member of the Snohomish County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said she’s had calls from Bellingham and Kirkland asking for more information.

“We are thrilled to have one more real resource to give to people who call in crisis,” she said.

The shortage of psychiatrists and other mental-health specialists in the county makes it nearly impossible to get a timely initial assessment or even a crisis appointment for help, Schilde said. “That’s the niche I think they’ll be filling.”

Patients who walk into the office, near the hospital’s emergency room, are often greeted by Jordan Larkin-Sinn, a counselor who has experienced mental health issues of anxiety and depression himself.

“You can see the relaxation with them when they know you’ve been there, as opposed to reading it from a book,” he said.

Some need a prescription refill, others are referred to other services in the community. “What we’re running into is, it’s harder and harder to find counseling for individuals,” he said.

Larkin-Sinn said he continues to follow-up with patients after they’ve left the clinic to help them get the services they need.

Adults come to the clinic for a range of issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, divorce and the loss of a loved one, said Laura Knapp, Providence’s director of behavioral health.

“It’s like if you have a cold or the flu, you would go to an urgent care clinic,” she said.

“What I tell people is if you find you’re in a behavioral health crisis and don’t know where to turn, we are the perfect place to be seen.”

No one will be turned away due to lack of health insurance. The cost of the office visit is roughly the same as going to an urgent care clinic for medical care, Knapp said.

The interior of one of the four consultation rooms at Providence’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The interior of one of the four consultation rooms at Providence’s Behavioral Health Urgent Care. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Providence General Foundation has pledged nearly $400,000 over three years for the clinic’s operations.

The need for the service, which opened in November, arose from the number of patients coming to one of the state’s busiest emergency rooms seeking help for mental health issues — about 1,300 a month.

Some come there seeking prescription refills because they couldn’t get an appointment with their mental-health provider for six to eight weeks, Knapp said.

“It became apparent we needed to open a clinic so we can address that need outside the emergency department,” she said.

More than a third of the urgent care clinic’s patients said they would have gone to the hospital’s emergency department if the service hadn’t been available.

Providence’s urgent care mental-health service “gets the recovery process started in the moment,” said Tom Sebastian, chief executive of Compass Health, which provides mental-health services in Snohomish, Island, Skagit, San Juan and Whatcom counties. Quick attention to mental health needs is difficult to expect of emergency room physicians who are treating heart attacks, broken legs and other medical emergencies, he said.

Having the urgent care clinic on the same campus as the emergency room is key, he said, increasing the opportunity for patients to get the help they need.

Even so, with 335 patients treated since it opened in November, the urgent care clinic is only seeing a fraction of those still seeking mental-health services in the hospital’s emergency room.

“We would love to have it open 24 hours, but that isn’t possible,” said Schilde, the board member with the local NAMI chapter.

The urgent care service has limited hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is only open Monday through Friday. “You’re speaking to a gap that remains and we hope to fill in the future” by expanding its hours, Knapp said.

Yet it is one step in an effort to help address a long-term problem locally and nationally — that it’s far harder to get timely help for mental health than physical health problems.

“A lot of families come in with loved ones and say, ‘We know we need help; we don’t know where to turn,’” Knapp said. “They can come in and see us.”

Sharon Salyer 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

More information

Providence Behavioral Health Urgent Care, 1330 Rockefeller Ave., Suite 140, Everett, provides services for patients 18 and older. The clinic’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 425-261-4210 or go to tinyurl.com/MentalHealthUrgentCare for more information.

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