Frontier Behavioral Health is expanding its toll-free crisis line to include services for several surrounding counties.
Called the Regional Behavior Health Crisis Line, it will replace the First Call for Help number that previously served as Spokane County’s round-the-clock telephone intervention run by trained volunteers and professional staff. Spokane-based Frontier, Eastern Washington’s largest mental health provider, will switch to the new 24/7 number beginning Jan. 1.
Carla Savalli, director of communications at Frontier, said the change and expansion is part of the state’s integrated physical and behavioral health care initiative that seeks to consolidate systems and streamline access to services. As part of new state requirements, she said Frontier had to expand services to surrounding counties without care, including Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties.
“The good news is, by making the change, we’re now available to five other counties where we weren’t before,” she said. “The number is different but the services aren’t.”
Savalli said Frontier is also in the process of hiring and training a team of full-time clinicians to staff the new hotline. Previously, a group of volunteers would answer the phone, triage the patient and forward them to a professional staff member who would then connect them with services. Now, Savalli said, patients will be connected directly to professional staff.
The only change to people using the line, she said, will be memorizing a new number. Rather than First Call for Help’s (509) 838-4428, patients will now need to call (877) 266-1818, toll free. If the old line is called after Dec. 31, Savalli said a prerecorded message will play and direct them where to go.
“I understand change is difficult,” she said. “Learning a new number is difficult. But we’re not take any services away.”
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