Support of Crisis Intervention Levy is vital to health and safety of our community

Mental health touches everyone in all aspects of our lives. Failure to help people in crisis affects the entire community. And the entire Missoula community includes those vulnerable people going through a mental health crisis.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital fully supports Missoula County’s Crisis Intervention Levy as it provides greater access to vital mental health services, supports programs that help those in crisis, and reduces negative impacts on our entire community.

Through the collaboration of Missoula county and city officials and community stakeholders, we have made great strides in improving our crisis care system.

Initiatives like the Emergency Winter Shelter have helped people affected by homelessness connect with lifesaving services. Last winter alone, 567 people received winter shelters, and as a result, no one in Missoula died from exposure to the elements.

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Likewise, the Mobile Response Team, which dispatches paramedics and trained social workers to emergency calls, has helped people get appropriate help instead of going to the emergency room for treatment.

Even with these additional services, our community faces an increasing need for a more robust crisis management system. This is evident in our emergency room and will become clear as we navigate an ongoing pandemic. Since 2019, St. Pat’s ED has seen a 30 percent increase in patients seeking mental health services — that’s an average of 6-9 patients per day. Currently, 1 in 4 avoidable admissions to our Emergency Department at Providence St. Patrick Hospital is for mental health reasons.

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The Crisis Intervention Levy is needed to ensure we continue to make progress in providing appropriate care to people in times of crisis while reducing the impact on our healthcare system.

Improving access to crisis care is not only what our community needs, it deserves. We can’t just ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Please join us in supporting this important investment in the health and safety of our community.

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Joyce Dombrouski is chief executive of the Providence Montana service area, which includes St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula; Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson; and Providence Medical Group, which oversees approximately 2,500 employees and providers.

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