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Partnership with UCHealth increases clinician staffing for crisis intervention programs

Aurora’s partnership with UCHealth increases clinician staffing for crisis intervention programs
Posted on 03/29/2023
Van with logos of Aurora Mobile Response Team and Falck Rocky Mountain

The city of Aurora is proud to announce its recent partnership with UCHealth has successfully launched with six new clinicians and two care coordinators hired for Aurora’s crisis intervention programs. The Aurora Mobile Response Team (AMRT) and Crisis Response Team (CRT) were established in the last five years and pair mental health professionals with first responders. UCHealth began partnering with the city in January to provide staffing for both teams, which respond to behavioral health crises across Aurora through emergency services.

The AMRT and CRT provide a continuum of crisis care across the Aurora community to provide the right response at the right time. No matter the individual’s situation, the city of Aurora emergency services has a crisis intervention program that may be able to help. Full staffing includes two units for the AMRT and five units for the CRT. AMRT operates 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and CRT operates 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Units can be requested through 911 or the non-emergency dispatch line at 303.627.3100.

The AMRT, which debuted in September 2021, is an alternative response to handling behavioral health crises. The team has since doubled in size and pairs a mental health clinician from UCHealth with a paramedic or EMT from Falck Rocky Mountain Inc. to provide trauma-informed crisis intervention and de-escalation services on the scene to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis related to mental health, depression, homelessness, poverty and/or substance use issues where a law enforcement response may not be necessary.

AMRT staff are not armed, do not perform any law-enforcement duties, and will not respond to incidents that involve violence, criminal acts or life-threatening medical situations. AMRT provides basic first aid, behavioral health assessments, and needs such as food, water, clothing, hygiene products and referrals for local resources. In 2022, AMRT responded to nearly 500 calls. The innovative program garnered the attention of CBS News, which profiled AMRT last year for a national audience on CBS Evening News and CBS Mornings.

CRT exists within the Aurora Police Department and pairs crisis intervention-trained police officers with mental health clinicians from UCHealth. Both share the same mission of providing trauma-informed crisis care. The CRT was established in 2018 and responded to more than 1,000 calls in 2022, and more than 8,000 calls since its inception.

“We see a lot of individuals from schools and the community in general requesting these co-responder programs,” said city of Aurora Crisis Intervention Program Manager Courtney Tassin. “We are thrilled to partner with UCHealth on this proven, modern approach to crisis response.”

“CRT and AMRT are an invaluable resource for the community we serve,” said APD Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We look forward to a continued partnership with both programs to ensure the most appropriate resources are available for our neighbors experiencing difficulties due to mental health crises.”

“UCHealth already has five co-responder programs that have been successfully established across the state,” said Ariel Solomon, senior clinical supervisor for UCHealth Aurora’s co-responder team. “The Aurora Police Department and city staff have been amazing partners thus far.”

The city of Aurora entered a partnership with UCHealth this year to bring aboard well-trained, experienced clinicians for both crisis response programs. UCHealth is a nonprofit health system that includes 29,000 employees, 12 acute-care hospitals and hundreds of physicians to provide high-quality healthcare across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

“It’s very apparent to us that sending the right resource to the right patient or client at the right time is critically important,” said Falck CEO David Patterson. “Not only do programs like AMRT benefit the person we are serving by providing them with a more specialized service for their need, having programs like this also preserve the traditional 911 response resources for traditional emergencies.”

These teams have been recognized as a success and a priority for the city by the Aurora City Council and city leadership. As a result, Council recently approved funding for both the AMRT and CRT, allowing for expansion and sustainable operations. Prior to this, the CRT had been grant funded, and the AMRT was slated as a six-month pilot program.

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