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WMC, AICS collaborate to improve response time for critical behavioral health issues

Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) and Alaska Island Community Services (AICS) this month announced a collaboration to improve staff response time when a patient may be a danger to themselves or the community.

WMC Quality Improvement Coordinator Sandi Calvert said this usually applies to mental health issues.

“This is a process that involves having someone go out of town, possibly against their will,” Calvert said. “They might not be in a state of mind to make that decision, and the doctor would have to step in and decide that this would be a good time for this person to get a more in-depth evaluation.”

She said there are a lot of people and procedures involved in sending a patient with critical behavioral health issues to a different facility.

“So we decided it was time to revisit this and make sure that our process and procedure was thorough and was smooth and efficient,” Calvert said.

Employees from WMC and AICS formed a committee to improve a method that previously could result in delaying a patient for up to three days.

Elizabeth Brummett is a behavioral health clinician with AICS. She said the team made a booklet of forms and clarified each person’s responsibilities.

“For us coming in as behavioral health clinicians, we know what our part is, but it gets very confusing when someone says, ‘Well do I need to do this or you?’ And that can be very tricky to figure out,” Brummett said. “Especially since the hospital has their policies, and we have ours. So working together to make sure that we’re all collaborating and enhancing each other’s jobs, instead of maybe confusing each other, it’s been great.”

This process is not often needed, but Brummett said a pertinent situation came up right after the review was completed.

“It did go a lot smoother because we did know what was expected,” Brummett said.

Calvert noted this is evidence of growing collaboration between WMC and AICS.

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