Ecker Center in Elgin opens new program to help offset mental health ER visits

Ecker Center for Behavioral Health in Elgin has opened its new Crisis Stabilization Program, an alternative to those in a mental health crisis instead of going to a hospital emergency room.

The intent is to provide immediate care and prevent unnecessary emergency room visits and inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, said Ecker spokeswoman Jennifer Flory.

Crisis intervention services will be available 24/7 to anyone in Kane County age 18 and older who is experiencing suicidal ideation, trauma, panic attacks, depression, grief and loss, substance use disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We will be able to relieve pressure on hospitals," said Daisy Silva, Crisis Residential Program and Crisis Stabilization Manager for Ecker Center.

"Our hope is to be able to intervene at the beginning or middle of a crisis and de-escalate symptoms or a crisis to the point where an individual is not requiring hospitalization, and they do not have to go to an emergency room for evaluation," Silva said.

A nonprofit, Ecker Center serves the entire county and has a second office at 409 Illinois Ave. in St. Charles.

The new program is part of the ongoing expansion of Ecker's Crisis Care Continuum of services to meet the needs of the community 24/7 every day, regardless of insurance coverage, ability to pay, or residency, Flory said.

"Anybody can come," Flory said of the new Crisis Stabilization Program. "It does not matter how much money you have or whether you have insurance. We are a certified community behavioral health clinic."

The center can respond to people who have depression, suicidal or homicidal ideation - but it would depend on how they are presenting, Silva said.

"It could be someone who is experiencing passive or active suicidal thoughts - up to having a plan - that is someone we could still help," Silva said. "If someone has already taken action to harm themselves or taken a bottle of pills, that is not someone that we can care for. They will need immediate medical attention."

The center can help someone already living with mental health symptoms that have suddenly gotten worse, Silva said.

The center cannot guarantee that a person will not need hospitalization, but Ecker is equipped to support and provide resources to them, Silva said.

Ecker celebrated the new program with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at its main office, 1845 Grandstand Place, Elgin, where the clinic is located.

The center received funding to remodel a portion of the building it did not use to house the new Crisis Stabilization Program, Flory said.

Ecker received $12,500 from the Hanover Township Mental Health Board to assist with the renovation and to buy furniture. It also received $15,000 from Elgin Township, Flory said.

Ecker received more than $1 million in federal funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Flory said, but the grant is for more than the Crisis Stabilization Program.

The new center can serve six guests, using reclining chairs so they can be relaxed and comfortable. People in crisis can stay up to 23 hours at the center while they are evaluated for additional services, Flory said.

Silva said the center did a soft opening and has already served existing Ecker clients in the new space.

"It has been working out well," Silva said. "Our service is meant to be easily accessible. You can walk in. Staff will be available to work with them immediately."

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