The Integrated Care Team is hitting the 90-day mark and that is the end of the pilot program.
But it’s likely not the end of the program.
“We are meeting today to study the impact it has had,” said Wichita Police Chief Tammy Snow.
Wichita fire is part of the team with an EMT. Police officers or Sheriff’s deputies are on the team and the last piece is a mental health worker from COMCARE. The unit goes on mental health 911 calls to take stress off other police and fire calls and to offer that mental health expertise out in the field.
“Often we can give them treatment in place or get them to services,” says Joan Tammany with COMCARE. “We treated about half of those calls in place with the team.”
In the last 90 days the three person team has responded to about 200 calls for mental health help.
The program will now be evaluated to see if it will continue or if it needs changes.
County Commissioner Jim Howell says mental health response needs to continue to get better in Kansas. He says the team is doing good work and the program will get a thorough evaluation.
“So, what comes next? I don’t know the answer to that,” says Howell. “If money was no object I think we would do this around the clock, 24-7 and you’d probably have multiple teams. But a program of that caliber would mean several million dollars.”
Right now the team is staffed with rotating members of WPD, Sheriff and Wichita fire or Sedgwick County District one fire EMT people. COMCARE also sends staff to round out the team.
Howell says the ICT-1 model came from other cities, and it’s a good one. But he says part of the evaluation process will be to see if the model here needs to change.
Early numbers Chief Snow received showed the city and county combined saved close to $175-thousand based on more efficient use of resources through ICT-1.
Howell is asking if more COMCARE workers could be added. Those COMCARE workers would then be on call 24/7 to respond with fire or police as first response when a mental health 911 call comes into dispatch.
“I don’t know the answer to that line of thinking, but I’m asking the question,” said Howell. “There will be a lot of people evaluating to see what makes the most sense here in the county and in Wichita.”