The city of Las Vegas soon will launch a mobile crisis unit to respond to people with psychiatric emergencies, part of an ongoing push to connect residents with health care through paths that don’t always end at an emergency room.
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday approved a grant agreement with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health to funnel nearly $1.9 million to the city for the new unit.
The initiative will allow licensed social workers to respond to calls that involve psychological episodes and may connect the person to a mental health care provider, rather than a hospital.
“We really wanted to align the right resource with the right need,” Fire Chief Willie McDonald said.
The goal is for the pilot program to launch in May, McDonald said.
Las Vegas also is poised to launch a community paramedicine program, which would expand the roles of paramedics and allow for mobile responses. The program could target chronic 911 callers, homeless people, substance abusers and elderly patients.
In 2017, Las Vegas dispatchers took roughly 700 calls from the same 15 people, McDonald said.
Continued fire and rescue responses weren’t often able to remedy residents’ chronic problems, and they take paramedics and equipment out of service, McDonald said.
McDonald highlighted one caller who repeatedly missed dialysis appointments and would call 911 after her lungs filled with fluid.
If the City Council approves the paramedicine program, it would join the new crisis intervention team and a call line staffed by registered nurses who aim to help people with lower-level medical calls.
Councilman Cedric Crear was sworn in Wednesday to represent Ward 5 on the City Council, filling a seat that’s been vacant since Ricki Barlow stepped down in January before pleading guilty to misusing campaign money.
Crear beat 10 other candidates for the seat in a March special election. He will serve out the remainder of Barlow’s term, which will expire in July 2019.
Crear said he was “humbled” to represent Ward 5. He resigned from the Nevada Board of Regents and the Las Vegas Planning Commission to take the council seat. The City Council voted to appoint Brenda Williams to replace Crear on the Planning Commission.
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