LYNNWOOD, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Compass Health and the Lynnwood Police Department announced a partnership to implement Compass Health’s Community Transitions program, embedding a mental health professional with the Lynnwood Police Department Community Health and Safety Section. The program, funded by a grant from the Verdant Health Commission, aims to reduce high-frequency use of emergency services by responding to community members at risk in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
“With this initiative, our goal is to meet people where they’re at and connect them with the appropriate resources so they can get help – whether that’s medical care or mental health or substance use treatment, transportation or food assistance – we really want to foster a continuity of care,” said Charissa Westergard, director of healthcare integration at Compass Health.
In light of the growing impact of COVID-19 and the need for appropriate law enforcement response when addressing mental and behavioral health challenges, the goal of this partnership is to manage health and safety needs of individuals and the community through collaboration, outreach and engagement.
“A lot of people we encounter in the Community Health and Safety Section have behavioral or physical health issues related to homelessness or addiction. We recognize they could benefit from additional support beyond what we, as law enforcement, can provide,” said Lynnwood Police Department Sergeant Justin Gann. “By engaging with these community members alongside our new social worker, we hope to shift their use of 9-1-1 and emergency department services to more appropriate resources, based on their needs.”
The embedded Compass Health mental health professional, Heather Turner, will ride along with Lynnwood Police Department’s community health and safety officers, meeting with individuals throughout Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
“I’m excited to be a part of this collaborative effort to look at this challenge holistically and provide care to individuals with the goal of empowering and supporting them,” Turner said. “This is an amazing opportunity to get to know community members and build relationships. People sometimes call 911 because they have needs that are going unmet, but they don’t know where else to turn. This program intervenes to get them the right care at the right time.”
Compass Health first implemented the Community Transitions model in partnership with South County Fire in Snohomish County in 2016. It is one tool in the behavioral health provider’s range of community response services, which also includes crisis outreach through Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT), the new Integrated Model of Police and Crisis Teams (IMPACT) program, as well as ongoing care coordination and non-emergency services like the Community Outreach and Recovery Support teams.
“The Community Transitions program is one of the cornerstones of our spectrum of community response services at Compass Health,” Westergard said. “Our goal is to provide quality services that result in better outcomes and support a positive experience for clients; and because individuals are accessing the right types of services for their needs, we are able to use resources more effectively for more people.”
Virginia Clough, community relations director for the City of Mountlake Terrace added, “The City of Mountlake Terrace is excited to be a part of this innovative program to address some of the monumental challenges our communities face on a daily basis. By pooling resources and working together, we can make an impact one person at a time.”
With funding from Verdant, the partnership with Lynnwood Police Department will address the gap in services for people who are not necessarily in crisis, but need additional support, including access to mental health and substance use treatments, shelter assistance, food vouchers, hygiene sites and more.
“From the beginning, we recognized that this model could really transform the way that the community operates and responds to those in need,” said Lisa Edwards, superintendent of the Verdant Health Commission. “We’re honored to support the program, and laud Compass Health, Lynnwood Police Department and Mountlake Terrace for their commitment to finding a solution that will address some of our region’s biggest challenges and meet the needs of our neighbors in South Snohomish County.”
For more information about the Community Transitions program please visit: https://www.compasshealth.org/services/community-transitions/.
About Compass Health
Compass Health is Northwest Washington’s behavioral healthcare leader. A community-based healthcare agency, Compass Health integrates behavioral health and medical care services to form a key section of the community safety net and serve clients and others in need of care and support. From comprehensive mental health treatment to crisis prevention and intervention, supportive housing, children’s services, community education and much more, the non-profit organization serves people of all ages throughout Snohomish, Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Whatcom counties.
About the Verdant Health Commission
The Verdant Health Commission funds a wide range of programs that empower people in South Snohomish County to make healthy decisions and get the care they need to stay well. For nearly half a century, we served the health needs of our community by managing the local community hospital. We are now focused on investing in innovative programs that will make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of South Snohomish County residents, with $8.2 million in grants issued in 2020. Verdant also offers free or low-cost education and prevention classes virtually and in person the Verdant Community Wellness Center in Lynnwood.