GRAND RAPIDS — Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services has added an urgent care telehealth service as a way to provide greater convenience and access to mental health care.
People experiencing symptoms and needing mental health care can get assessed the same day by a Pine Rest clinician through the telehealth service.
Pine Rest added the service for urgent care after transitioning to telehealth weeks ago for all outpatient sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing how well that has worked. An urgent care telehealth service “was the obvious next step,” said Megan Zambiasi, director of clinical practice, Pine Rest Hospital and Residential Services.
“That’s a lesson we’ve all learned. We can do many more things virtually than we never thought possible,” Zambiasi said. “We thought we should be offering this for urgent care, too.”
During the pandemic, Pine Rest has maintained in-person visits at the psychiatric urgent care center at the Cutlerville campus. Since opening in April 2019, the psychiatric urgent care center has registered 6,600 visits, many of them from people who have never been treated before by Pine Rest, Zambiasi said.
Pine Rest opened the urgent care center to divert people from going to a hospital emergency. The urgent care center conducts psychiatric assessments and treatment for symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, disturbing and suicidal thoughts, acute grief, trouble managing daily activities, or substance abuse.
The urgent care telehealth service resulted from calls Pine Rest was getting asking if the option was available, or from people worried about contracting the coronavirus during an in-person visit or who could not get to the Cutlerville center, Zambiasi said.
Pine Rest has been preparing for an increase in patients in the weeks and months ahead as the pandemic exacerbates stress, anxiety, depression or other problems for people who may have lost their jobs, feel isolated, or experienced a death in their family.
“This is a crisis where we’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Zambiasi said. “All of those things combined, we just really felt that it was important to do whatever we could to increase access to services.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Pine Rest Psychiatric Urgent Care Center can be contacted at (616) 455-9200.