WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita City Council approved over $1 million on Tuesday to expand the Integrated Care Team project. Sedgwick County Commissioners must also approve the expansion on Wednesday.
The project currently has one unit, ICT-1. It has mental health professionals, an officer and a paramedic. The program began in 2019 and is a partnership between COMCARE and the Wichita Police Department. Click here to see statistics.
Jennifer Wilson, the director of COMCARE Crisis Services, says ICT-1 is busy, and it only operates 40 hours a week.
The expansion will allow for eight new staff members, a team of two in four different units. Each unit will have a master-level clinician and a bachelor-level integrated care specialist. That way, they can serve more patients and help police on mental health calls.
“These calls require at least two officers, if not more, and then we’re transporting because we can’t leave them there, there’s no resource to leave them there,” Capt. Jason Cooley said. “And then we’re staying with them at the hospital for several hours.”
Cooley is the ICT project director. The new units will rotate 10-hour shifts seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
“The goal of all these units is to be able to respond to more of the mental health calls that are coming into 911 and be able to give them faster services,” Capt Cooley said. “So that way the officers are freed up to respond to other calls, that individuals are getting the services they need.”
In 2022, there were over 1,000 calls for ICT-1, 962 hours spent on calls, and 318 emergency room visits avoided.
The ICT-1 allows for an early response on the scene rather than going to a hospital.
“We really want to provide care at the time of crisis at the location where the person is at to make it most comfortable for them, and then make the referrals so they can get connected to outpatient care rather than requiring that institutional or psychiatric inpatient care,” Wilson said.
They also follow up on care and referrals that were established during the intervention to decrease repeat calls.
“If they struggle getting connected, they can help access the resources that we have referred to,” Wilson said.
They hope to get the additional units up and running this summer.
“Police will be able to identify when they respond to calls whether or not there’s a mental health need, and then at that time, they can ask for the master’s level clinician and the bachelors level integrated care specialist to join them so they can intervene,” Wilson said.
The city approved the funding through 2024, and county commissioners must still vote.