This article by Andrew Larson appeared in Hartford Business Journal on June 28, 2023.
The Village for Families & Children will open Hartford’s first urgent crisis center for children experiencing mental health emergencies next month.
The tentative opening is set for July 10. The facility is at 1680 Albany Ave., in a building that previously housed The Village’s administrative offices.
Those offices have moved to a property the nonprofit organization recently acquired at 450 Church St., in downtown Hartford.
The mental health crisis center is like an ER for kids experiencing a mental crisis.
“A child may be thinking that they’re going to die, that they won’t be able to breathe,” said Galo Rodriguez, CEO of The Village. “There is no need to go to the emergency room in a situation like that. … People will go and they will be assessed immediately. The staff will deescalate the event, the attack, and they will give a follow up. It could be medications. It could be therapy. It could be sending them to the outpatient clinic.”
Rodriguez said it’s a better option than taking a child to a hospital ER, where the wait to receive treatment could take hours, or even days if the child is admitted for an in-patient evaluation.
At The Village’s urgent crisis center, the child will see a clinician immediately, he said.
The center will be staffed 24/7, including holidays and weekends. People can call beforehand or they can show up unannounced.
Rodriguez said patients may be discharged in as little as two hours, saving time and the additional cost brought on by a visit to the hospital.
The Village’s urgent crisis center commits to discharge patients within 24 hours of their arrival, he said. All forms of insurance are accepted.
The nation’s mental health crisis has had a profound effect on children. Nearly 20% of children between 3 and 17 have a mental, emotional, developmental or behavioral disorder, according to the National Institute of Health’s National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. These trends were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.
The Village’s crisis center comprises 6,000 square feet of newly renovated space. Funding for the project came from a $120 million allocation by the state legislature for children’s mental health services and the Department of Children and Families.