The Crisis Services Community Meeting on October 18, 2018 was inspiring.
Katherine Saluskin welcomed attendees to the Yakama Reservation, and thanked them for their participation. She invited Councilman Saluskin, her father, to open the meeting in the traditional Yakama custom, a prayer.
Councilman Saluskin rang ceremonial bells and conducted a prayer. He encouraged everyone to open their hearts and minds toward a solution that would help the whole community. People are suffering.
The community was asked to come together to talk about crisis services, and they did. Nurses, emergency room physicians, therapists, and program managers described the wait times for crisis response, especially for Designated Crisis Responders who physically come to the scene, and evaluate the person in crisis. The law allows a two-hour response time, but 15 minutes seems like an eternity when someone you love is in crisis.
The provider of the crisis services was being called out. According to the Tribal members, the Yakama Nation experiences more mental health and substance use issues than anywhere in the region, yet no dedicated services are addressing the need by the contracted provider.
No one called into question the quality of the services of Comprehensive Health, who has been serving the Yakima region for over 16 years, and doing a good job. Some described it a capacity issue due to the increasing need for behavioral health services, and decreasing funding from the state. But communication between the Nation and Comprehensive is lacking, and young lives are being lost.
The meeting was summarized by three themes: communication and collaboration, capacity, and culture. Everyone agreed that something should be done, and promised to convene again in three weeks.
And they did.
On October 31st, Program Managers from the Nation, Greater Columbia BHO, the Health Care Authority, Greater Columbia ACH, and the community met to deepen the conversation. Information was shared about upcoming changes to the BHO, and questions were asked about billing for services and facilities under the new MCO system.
Gaps in service were discussed, and ideas were generated to close them.
Greater Columbia BHO offered to meet again with the Yakamas, and Greater Columbia ACH offered to improve communication infrastructure.
Everyone agreed that we should meet again. Everyone left in good spirits. After all, it was Halloween.
Thank you to the Yakama Nation for your culture.
Thank you to Comprehensive for your collaboration.
Thank you to Greater Columbia BHO for your cooperation.
Thank you to the Health Care Authority for your communication.