By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – The city council on Tuesday will receive a report from the subcommittee on a potential Crisis Now effort and will be asked to agree to a partnership with Yolo County, contributing about $1.17 million over a three-year period.
Back in April, the city council, as part of the “reimagining public safety” discussion, created a subcommittee of Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs and Councilmember Josh Chapman to work with city and Yolo County staff to determine “if and how Davis could partner with the County on the Crisis Now model.”
This is part of a series of nine recommendations that was originally presented from subcommittee to council in December 2020.
In May, Karen Larsen, Director of Yolo County Health and Human Services presented the Crisis Now model to the council.
A similar program has been implemented in Maricopa County, Arizona. A video shows that the program saves the equivalent of 37 full time police officers, reduces the wait time in emergency rooms by around a collective 45 years by diverting people in mental health crises away from standard ER beds, and they estimate it produces an overall cost saving of $37 million systemwide.
The Crisis Now model moves away from alternatives such as the co-responder model that is often favored by law enforcement, which would have an embedded social worker arrive with an armed police officer.
Larsen explained that the “crisis model would not have clinicians going out with law enforcement, clinicians would go out with someone with lived experience to respond to mental health crises.”
The proposal explained by Larsen included an access/crisis call center, a 24/7 mobile crisis response team, and crisis stabilization programs, including a receiving center. The county at that time was working to determine total costs and the funding gap that would need to be filled to make the system viable.
The county has been in conversation with cities in Yolo, including Davis, on a shared model.
“The County has officially asked for the cities to invest ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funding in the shared amount of one million dollars per year for three years,” the subcommittee writes. “They have further proposed that this amount be shared based on population size with Davis funding 39%, Woodland funding 32%, and West Sacramento funding 29%. This would result in an annual $390,000 cost for Davis, or a total of $1,170,000.”
The subcommittee at this point is agreeable to this, writing, “While Davis can agree to this population-based split as a starting point, we would recommend revisiting the breakdown after the program has been implemented to determine whether adjustments should be made, whether to the population split or the overall methodology.”
As proposed this would have three key components: a 24/7 Crisis Call Center, Co-responder team, and Receiving Center which includes a Sobering Center.
“The County already fully funds a 24/7 Crisis Call Center. They are hoping to improve the technology for this service and potentially partner in a regional model but anticipate continuing to fund this portion of the model fully,” the subcommittee reports.
The county also partners to share the cost of co-responders. But the Receiving Center would be entirely new.
These services are projected to cost upwards of $12 million per year. The county would continue funding 100 percent of the Crisis Call Center.
The subcommittee notes: “The Crisis Receiving Center is the piece of this model that potentially benefits the cities the most, and most directly addresses concerns outlined in the reimagining public safety conversation. This component is approximately $5 million annually. The proposed funding would have the County pay for 60% of the costs, with the cities covering 20%, private insurance paying 15%, and health systems covering the remaining 5%.”
In addition, “The Short-term Beds are the piece of this model where the health systems stand to benefit the most. This piece of the model is estimated to cost approximately $6 million.”
With that said, “The Crisis Now Model is projected to save millions of dollars above the shared investment.”
Some of these will be quantifiable. The county, for instance, “expects a measurable reduction in inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations and a reduction in short term jail bed days associated with having a sobering center.”
In addition, “the health systems can track the reduction in emergency department utilization for substance use and mental health crises, anticipated to be somewhere between 50-55% lower than current numbers.”
On the other hand, cost avoidance might be harder to track.
Assuming the Davis City Council supports this program and expenditures, the next step will be seeing if Woodland and West Sacramento agree to participate as well. Discussions are expected to take place over the next six to eight weeks.