Updated Nov. 8
Vineyard police have long wanted mental healthcare workers to join them on mental healthcare calls. Police, along with Vineyard fire and EMS services, have hoped Martha’s Vineyard Services (MVCS) could fill such a role.
“Island police, fire, and EMS have long enjoyed a successful working relationship with MVCS,” Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said in a statement to The Times. “It is our hope that this relationship can be further expanded to involve MVCS participation during mental health calls for service in people’s homes, as these can be particularly volatile if not handled properly. The trend to ‘co-respond’ with mental health professionals and public safety working together is a growing trend across the country, and one that we would welcome here on the Island as well.”
Chief McNamee inquired about such a cooperative relationship in the field with MVCS at a recent MVCS mental healthcare briefing.
“On behalf of the other department heads in public safety, we’re still looking for a time frame as to when we might be able to expect some kind of a co-response model with your agency,” Chief McNamee told MVCS officials. “We’re one of the few locations perhaps in the country that isn’t taking advantage of that sort of response to these volatile calls for service in people’s homes.”
“Every six months you and I circle back to this topic,” Beth Folcarelli, CEO of MVCS, said. “It is part of our strategic plan, our three-year plan.”
Folcarelli went on to say workforce developments like a new residency program may “deliver that model.”
Earlier the meeting Folcarelli noted MVCS had a high clinician attrition rate, and a residency program would go a long way to stanching such losses. However, she told Chief McNamee clinician numbers are insufficient presently. “So without the staffing, we’re not able to deliver the model.” she said.
Folcarelli described the situation as an “excellent case in point of the mental health crisis in that if we’re not able or unsuccessful in our recruitment efforts, we don’t have the bandwidth to have clinicians out in the community.”
Folcarelli went on to say, “So I am very hopeful that this clinical residency program, as we bring in the new clinicians, five of them, to our service array, that they would be assigned into the enhanced urgent care, from which the co-response program is expected to launch. I don’t have a time frame on that. Wish I did. Wish I did have a magic wand on knowing when we would have people in-house and trained up and ready to do that, but it is on our plan.”
She also said MVCS believes partnering with law enforcement is “critical to early intervention.” Folcarelli said year one of the MVCS strategic plan is already done, so she expected to realize co-responses “more sooner than later.”
Updated to correct the surname spelling of the MVCS CEO.