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Excela Health to open new Crisis Response Center in Greensburg

| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 12:27 a.m.
Marcie Stover-Jividen, a behavioral health therapist, gives a tour of Excela Health's new Behavioral Health Crisis Response Center in Greensburg on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Professionals and the public were invited to tour Excela Health's new Behavioral Health Crisis Response Center in Greensburg on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review

People in crisis will have a place to go and get help, if needed, with a new Crisis Response Center that Excela Health will open next month in Greensburg, according to health system officials.

People troubled by financial stress, divorce, mental health or similar issues can get assistance at the center, said Ray Grabowski, director of Excela Behavioral Health Services.

On Friday, officials held an open house at the center, which is across East Pittsburgh Street from Excela's Westmoreland Hospital.

“Different people define ‘crisis' in different ways,” said Grabowski, a psychologist. “This is an opportunity for early intervention. It's an opportunity for someone who might go to the emergency room ... to go here first.”

A two-year Excela study showed its three emergency departments handled most psychiatric emergencies in Westmoreland County, and 60 percent of those people did not need to be admitted to a hospital, Grabowski said.

“That 60 percent is our target population, because we want to make them know we're here,” he said.

The 4,000-square-foot center on the lower level of the Behavioral Health Outpatient building has five interview rooms designed to accommodate people with physical or emotional needs.

The center includes a family conference room wired for the latest communication technology, a gathering space, a redesigned street entry and waiting areas.

Excela officials said they wanted to make the center feel more like a home living room and less like a doctor's sterile examination room.

“It's to be able to establish a sense of personal safety,” Grabowski said. “I can come to a place where I'm welcomed, comfortable and not forced to sit or follow a process. The environment is intended to set that pace.”

Nurses, therapists, behavioral health technicians and peer-support specialists will staff the center around the clock.

They will develop a comprehensive evaluation, assess individuals in psychiatric crisis and discuss programs that offer help.

A person can remain at the center for up to 23 hours, and six people can be served at the same time by staff, Grabowski said.

The center is not “for acutely ill individuals,” he said.

Other Excela staff toured the center last week so they could see how it operates, said Robin Jennings, Excela spokeswoman.

Police, ambulance and other emergency response personnel — those who often see people in crisis first — have been told about the services the center will offer, Excela officials said.

Most health insurance plans cover the services, Grabowski said.

Remodeling and expansion of the center, which is scheduled to open Feb. 11, began in August, funded by a $750,000 federal grant. Excela's behavioral health programs serve more than 5,000 people each year.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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