Rosecrance Mulberry Center in Rockford considered model for mental health treatment

ROCKFORD — Those in crisis can drop by the Rosecrance Mulberry Center 24 hours a day seven days a week and find a new triage center considered a model throughout the region and beyond.

The staff at 605 Mulberry St. can assess a multitude of problems, sparing patients a trip to hospital emergency rooms, and provide follow-up instructions for additional care.

“The ER staff — nothing against them — are really not trained for mental health,” said Betty Bartos, director at the Mulberry Center. “We’re kind of like the ER for mental health. We are here to help people who are actually in crisis.”

Data showing that 60 percent of visitors go home instead of requiring inpatient care is a sign, Bartos said, that the center is on the right path to more effectively delivering treatment for those suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems.

“We have co-occurring disorders,” Bartos said. “They don’t necessarily separate themselves.

“We used to have the idea that we have these nice, friendly alcoholics who are people who have drug addiction problems and then (those) who have mental health issues and never the two cross. We know that’s not true (and) that people often have both.”

The center opened in October as a safe, comfortable place for people in need of emergency mental health services. It is open to the public and takes walk-ins.

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