Tucson crisis center expanding services for faster mental health care | Local news

The second floor of the building holds call takers for the local crisis line during nonpandemic times and an inpatient unit for people who need to stay past the 23-hour observation period.

There is a walkway from the ground floor directly to Banner South, which holds the county’s 66-bed inpatient psychiatric facility. 

Margie Balfour, chief of quality and clinical innovation, talks about the urgent care area at the Crisis Response Center.

The crisis center staff includes social workers, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, peer support specialists, case managers and patient care techs. There are no security guards in the unit, but patient care techs and other staff members are trained to keep a close eye on patients and to check in and engage with them often.

The observation units are open spaces with recliners that can lie flat, should a person wish to sleep. There are some partitions between recliners, for patients who want privacy, but all the seats are visible from central staff workstations, which gives nurses, techs and others a 180-degree, fishbowl-style view of the unit.

On a recent Friday afternoon, a dozen people were in the adult observation unit, many resting or sleeping in their recliners. Two techs were out in the unit, talking to one of the more agitated people, but the scene remained quiet, calm and controlled.

“I never wanted to go there, but if I had to go again, I would want to go there and nowhere else,” a man named Kyle said of his visit to the crisis center. “I have never been in a medical facility with a nicer staff. They were calm, they were helpful, and they tried to do their best for every single patient. That’s pretty awesome. It means they love what they do.”

By Percy