Hospital, Wheeler agree to partnership on Emergency Service Crisis Dept.


Bristol Hospital and Wheeler Clinic have reached an agreement to further improve behavioral health crisis services for children, adolescents, adults and families in the Greater Bristol region.

Under the agreement, according to a press release from Bristol Hospital, Wheeler will assume responsibility for Bristol Hospital’s Emergency Department Crisis Service from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, and provide immediate intervention and facilitated connections to community services and resources, including primary and behavioral health care.

“The community health needs assessment we completed in 2013 clearly identified mental health and substance and alcohol abuse as priority health concerns,” said Kurt A. Barwis, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Bristol Hospital, according to the press release. “Our objective is to improve mental health outcomes, specifically in the areas of substance and alcohol abuse, leading to improved health and quality of life for the communities served by Bristol Hospital. Our collaboration with Wheeler Clinic will enhance access to behavioral health and other key services for patients and their families when they need it most urgently.”

Wheeler’s Crisis Team at the emergency department will conduct crisis evaluations and coordinate access to an array of community-based services for patients, including care management, extended day treatment, outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs, and wraparound supports, all of which offer long-term advantages over recurrent emergency department care. The agreement also connects patients to Wheeler’s Health and Wellness Center at 10 North Main Street, Bristol, a federally qualified health center for integrated primary and behavioral health services and dental care.

“Bristol Hospital and Wheeler have a long history of working together to improve the overall quality of life and care in the region,” said Susan Walkama, LCSW, president and CEO of Wheeler Clinic in the press release. “Patients with behavioral health needs will benefit from this coordinated approach to care that ensures access to high quality services and supports, and which prevents unnecessary emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and re-admissions. The end result for everyone is better health outcomes, an improved care experience, lower costs and the most appropriate linkages to services that can help individuals recover.”

Wheeler’s Substance Abuse Treatment Care Facilitation and Care Management Teams will also enhance discharge planning from Bristol Hospital for patients with serious behavioral health issues and create linkages to appropriate community behavioral health treatment and recovery support services.

“Health care works best when there is an integration of care, philosophies and strategies that improve the patient experience,” said Barwis in the press release. “Our patients and the entire Bristol community are better served through this partnership with Wheeler.”