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Mental health urgent care coming this fall to Cheyenne
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle - 8/6/2022
Aug. 6—CHEYENNE — The leader of a local clinic hopes establishing a walk-in facility for mental health care will help fill in some gaps in Wyoming.
After being in the mental health and social work field for 20 years, Emily Loos, the CEO of LIV Health, called the concept of a mental health urgent care facility "a no-brainer." She said she got the idea after listening to a radio report about a psychiatrist who decided to open up his office hours to accommodate his patients' needs.
Loos said that, to her knowledge, this would be the first facility of its kind in Wyoming. Based on an internet search, there seem to be some behavioral health urgent care facilities scattered across the U.S., including in Raytown, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; and Albemarle, North Carolina.
LIV Health started in Wyoming eight years ago. Until the end of June, the local office was located near downtown in a small, old house. Much of its work is done in the community — in homes, in assisted living and nursing facilities, and in other community spaces. Telehealth has become a larger part of the business in recent years, as it has for most medical organizations.
Loos, a licensed clinical social worker, said the idea has been in the works for a couple of years, and the search for a location began more than a year ago. The CEO said the new location on Dell Range Boulevard, a former chiropractor's office, was built as an urgent care in the 1980s.
"By some miracle, we got the perfect space to be able to launch this, and then that's when things really just started taking off over the last several months," Loos said in an interview.
The clinic will likely open in October, Loos said. Staff are finalizing policies, and remodeling is being finished.
The company also rents a location in Wellington, Colorado, but staff are rarely there, Loos said. Like here, many of LIV Health's current services are performed in the community.
LIV Health gets about 50 referrals each week for mental health services, case management, medical services or the community caregiver program. The Cheyenne facility "will be our first move to a more clinic-based approach," the CEO said.
"Our goal is to do crisis management, crisis intervention, (for) people that are really struggling that don't need emergency room level of care, but need help and need it right away," Loos said. People might have had a life change, a family crisis, or to have been affected by the behavioral changes of a loved one with dementia, she said.
The clinic will have extended and weekend hours, and will treat people 5 years and older. Loos said the urgent care clinic will accept all insurance and continue to offer a sliding scale to patients.
Being able to see and treat people in crisis quickly could help prevent suicide. Wyoming had the highest rate of suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2020, and for years has led or been among the states with the highest rate of deaths from suicide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"One of the biggest complaints that I've heard over the years is that a lot of people, when they need help, they need it right away, and they need to be able to figure out what's going on. And then you get the message, like, 'OK, we can get you in three months,' and it's like, 'What? Three months?'" Loos said.
Loos emphasized an integrated approach when it comes to medical and mental health. The clinic head said many of LIV Health's referrals come from other providers who treat people who have had untreated mental illness for years.
"If (someone has) diabetes and a mental illness, they're not going to take care of their diabetes if they're mentally ill," Loos said. "A lot of times, it's a dual approach, and so it's really important that those services are integrated and that we're all part of the team — you know, more of an interdisciplinary team approach."
Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.
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