Q&A: The Pennington County Crisis Stabilization Unit ‘Pivot Point’ receives operations grant

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded a $4 million grant to Pivot Point, the Pennington County Crisis Stabilization Unit.

The grant will fund the first 36 months of operations in the new facility, which Pivot Point hopes they can open in November or December this year.

The Crisis Stabilization Unit will provide a space for people experiencing mental health crises.

Why did Helmsley want to give Pivot Point $4 million?

“Helmsley wanted to be a part of this because a few years ago, we did a study out here and funded a study. We were concerned about behavioral health and concerned about what to do. And the study showed that the number one thing that could be done to improve the care of behavioral health out here and help the patients was provide a psych stabilization,” Walter Panzirer, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said.

What did the process look like before for people that needed help with behavioral health or mental health crises?

“Before if someone threatened suicide or threatened self-harm of some sort, or just having a real crummy day and just having a hard time coping with life, law enforcement is often called. That person may be placed on a long-term, multiple-day hold,” Panzirer said. “And if they don’t have room at a Rapid City regional, which is often very full, they have to be transported to Yankton to Health and Human Services. What happens then is the deputy has to transport across the state or that individual sometimes would go on the prison bus. If that person can be observed for up to five days here, they can start the diagnostic treatment and really refer the majority of the patients back to community services, saving the patients time, saving family time and also the county significant dollars.”

Why is it important to have services close to where someone is familiar with?

“It’s always better to be home. When you’re closer to home, you have the family support, you have local support. And when you’re here, you’re going to be referred back to the community and it’s always better to have those introductions to your caregivers here,” Panzirer said.

What will be happening when Pivot Point Opens?

“The first thing we’re hoping to do is move our current crisis care facility over here [to Pivot Point] once the building is done as the assessment center. So, we’re going to start with accepting walk-ins up to 24 hours,” Aimee Janvrin, associate executive officer and the clinical director for Behavior Management System, said. “We have to work on getting positions filled before we’re able to completely open the whole building. We need to get nurses, clinicians, behavioral techs, security support staff all hired up. We’re working diligently on it in the hopes we get it open sooner than later.”

How is this unit different from what we had before?

“This one is very unique because we’ve never had it outside of behavioral health with Monument, where we can take people that are on hold and it’s a secure, locked facility,” Janvrin said. “And a new part too is we’re offering medications. We do not offer that in our other ones. They’re able to see us to get prescribed meds, nursing is able to administer injections or give medications out and that’s another important piece.”

What is the goal that you hope this facility achieves?

“What I’m most excited about is that when people are experiencing a mental health crisis, we can keep them in our community and so family stays close. So, part of discharge planning would be with family and getting linked in with the right resources where they live and to have ongoing care with us once they’re out of the stabilization unit,” Janvrin said.

What does Pivot Point mean to Pennington County and the surrounding area?

“This is really a big deal. I’ve been in law enforcement [for] 34 plus years and we’ve always had a problem with having facilities, beds to take folks so they can get more care than we can provide in a correctional-type facility. We know that what we’ve learned is we talk about alcohol and drugs, there’s usually another component that is being disguised and that’s mental health many times,” Willie Whelchel, chief deputy of Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, said. “Now, we’re going to have more beds. A facility where we can get them connected with the right people at the right time. Then the continuum of care, just how important that is. And that’s what’s so exciting when you talk about for law enforcement and what we do, all of our facilities are very busy and full. This is going to be a huge addition for the individual themselves, for their family and, quite frankly, it’s going to save lives.”

How could this even affect law enforcement?

“It’s to keep the law enforcement on the street and dealing with whatever situations. They’re going to be able to come here with the individual, very short period of time,” Whelchel said. “At the Care Campus, we try three to five minutes when law enforcement or the hospital brings someone to our facility to get them processed and get them in front of where they need to be. Hopefully, it’ll be a short process here [at Pivot Point].”

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