MedStar Health Joins Effort to Expand Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services Across Baltimore Region | MedStar Health

MedStar Health Joins Effort to Expand Behavioral Health Crisis Response Services Across Baltimore Region

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The Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) Partnership will invest $45 million to minimize 911 calls, emergency department visits, and police interactions.

Columbia, MD - MedStar Health is pleased to announce its participation in the Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) Partnership. GBRICS is working to expand community-based behavioral health services in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, and Howard County that can serve as an alternative to calling 911, visiting an emergency department, or interacting with police during a behavioral health crisis.

Over the next five years, GBRICS will award $45 million in funding made available by the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) Regional Partnership Catalyst Grant Program. The partnership aims to create a regional behavioral health hotline to provide real-time care during a crisis, ensure 24/7 access to mobile crisis teams (MCT) capable of in-home crisis response services, and help outpatient providers interested in providing behavioral health services among other expansions of care.

“Often when someone is experiencing a behavioral health crisis, they end up in the ED, but that isn’t necessarily the best place for them. With GBRICS, we are coming together to reimagine the crisis response system so we can take care of our communities in a better way,” said MedStar Health Vice President of Clinical Care Transformation Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD. “We want to support people who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis with streamlined access to quality services – avoiding unnecessary trips to the ED and connecting to the appropriate services in a timely manner. This effort represents an unprecedented partnership between hospitals and numerous other stakeholders across four counties, to improve care for some of our most vulnerable populations.”

Alongside behavioral health leaders, 17 hospitals are collaborating on the partnership including MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, and MedStar Harbor Hospital. Every year, hospitals in Baltimore and surrounding counties see 58,000 emergency department visits from patients suffering from mental illness or a substance use disorder.

“GBIRCS is a game changer for how our region seeks to advance health care for the communities we serve. We’ve found that the top patient need across the Baltimore region is access to mental health and substance use services. This work will allow our region to respond to these needs, bringing together collective resources and assets to create more access points and provide better care,” said MedStar Health Director of Community Health Ryan Moran, MHSA.

“Alternatives to hospital-based services have been evolving for decades as we work to provide comprehensive outpatient behavioral health care,” said MedStar Health Senior Associate Executive Director for Behavioral Health Services Elias Shaya, MD. “Homelessness, unemployment, legal entanglements, and premature deaths caused by mental illness and substance use disorders can be prevented. We at MedStar Health are excited to be partners in GBRICS, working to meet patients where they are with early community-based interventions that help prevent these complications.”

GBRICS planning and development will begin on January 1, 2021, including the establishment of the GBRICS Council to support implementation and sustainability. The expansion of behavioral health services and crisis response resources in Baltimore and three surrounding counties will start in the third year of the project.