Porter-Starke Services to Expand Crisis Care

Porter-Starke Services to Expand Crisis Care

Porter-Starke Services, a not-for-profit community mental health center serving Northwest Indiana, was recently awarded multiple grants to expand access to behavioral healthcare services particularly to serve people with serious mental illness or substance use disorder, and individuals who are experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. 

“We are excited to be on the cutting edge of providing crisis care in our community,” said Matthew Burden, President/CEO of Porter-Starke Services. “The number of people experiencing a behavioral healthcare crisis has been increasing over the past few years. Through these grants, we will be working to align our services with the future of behavioral health care in Indiana.”

One of three recent grant awards allowing for this expansion is the Mobile Crisis Services Pilot grant through the State of Indiana’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction. This grant allows Porter-Starke Services to expand the scope of its crisis team consisting of emergency services personnel, licensed therapists, peer recovery specialists, family practice nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists. 

The mobile crisis team will complement existing services and provide behavioral health care assessment and support for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis out in the community. Members of the team can then connect people with the appropriate level of care, whether that is outpatient therapy and psychiatry or Porter-Starke’s 16-bed inpatient psychiatric hospital to provide stabilization and support.    

“Porter-Starke Services is in a good position to carry out these services thanks to a long-standing working relationship with the community, our local courts, law enforcement, and hospitals to link people experiencing behavioral health crises to the appropriate level of care,” said Sandy Carlson, Vice President of Clinical Services at Porter-Starke Services. 

“The mobile crisis grant provides the opportunity to enhance these collaborative relationships and provide rapid access to services and follow-up,” said Todd Van Buskirk, Director of Integrated Care at Porter-Starke Services. 

Carlson and Van Buskirk will be leading the development of the mobile crisis team in collaboration with local law enforcement in the coming months. One of the key goals of the grant is to develop a response system that can work in conjunction with 988, the new national suicide and crisis lifeline. 

“Expansion of crisis services promotes earlier access to care and enhances the quality of life of the people we serve and the greater community,” said Van Buskirk. “It ensures people receive appropriate care and it aligns with the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model of treatment that is being promoted throughout the state and nation, which Porter-Starke Services is continuing to develop here locally.”

The CCBHC model is designed to increase access to mental health and addiction treatment and integrate behavioral healthcare with medical care to improve client outcomes. Porter-Starke Services has been part of State of Indiana’s programs for CCBHC since 2016 and was recently awarded a CCBHC Improvement and Advancement (IA) Grant from the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant will support efforts to enhance the collaborative working relationship between community mental health and law enforcement, provide culturally appropriate trainings, and perform targeted outreach to underserved members of the community.  

“Our goal is to enhance people’s engagement with treatment,” said Kaitlyn Miller, Project Director of the new CCBHC-IA Grant. “The advancement grant will allow us to build upon the screenings, services, and access that we provide to people,” said Miller. 

Porter-Starke Services also received funding from Porter County Government using a portion of the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The awarded funds will assist Porter-Starke Services in the renovation of its facility at 2301 Cumberland Drive to create a crisis stabilization unit, which will support people with the appropriate level of care 24 hours per day. In addition, a portion of those ARPA funds will be applied to renovations that will expand access to services in Hebron as well as Valparaiso outpatient offices and the Recovery Center opioid treatment program.

“Our Recovery Center will move up the street to a new building in Summer 2023, giving us space to develop our crisis stabilization unit at 2301 Cumberland,” said Mike Weaver, Vice President of Medical Services. “We anticipate opening that unit in Fall 2023.”

A crisis stabilization unit is part of a full continuum of crisis care. “During a mental health or substance use-related crisis, unnecessary emergency room visits or jail detentions may result,” said Melanie Johnsen, Director of Acute Intensive Services. “With a crisis stabilization unit, community members will have access to immediate, specialized care provided by trained staff during a mental health or substance use-related crisis.” 

“We are grateful to all those at the federal, State, and local level for their vision and commitment to this issue. Porter County in particular has gone above and beyond to provide support through ARPA funds for needed infrastructure improvements, and I want to thank all those who championed this effort,” said Burden. 

Porter-Starke Services will be working on facility renovations and developing the programs over the course of the next year.   

Porter-Starke Services is a community mental health center with offices in Valparaiso, Portage, Knox, and La Porte. Porter-Starke Services also operates Marram Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center with offices in Gary and Hebron. The organization served over 18,000 individuals in 2022.