News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

County extends mental health outreach

ALBANY — Linn County has provided mental health crisis assistance to rural areas for a long time. 

But starting this month, the county’s Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) will be able to provide in-person services virtually anywhere in the county – from residential areas, to business parking lots to community parks – thanks to new E Transit van that has been “upfitted” into a mobile crisis clinic.

Nova Sweet, Linn County Crisis Supervisor Manager, said the county ordered the Ford van more than 18 months ago through a fleet program. It recently underwent transformation inside and out, with a colorful graphics wrap and an interior that features a generous amount of storage, seating, lights, a computer holder, swiveling front seats, a bench seat, and an on-board generator that will allow mental health staff to provide services in places where no electrical outlets are available.

Public Health Director Todd Noble said the project is in response to the passage of HB 2757, which requires counties to provide mobile crisis response. Funding came through the Oregon Health Authority. 

“We have traditionally been 24/7 but we primarily only responded directly to local hospitals to do crisis screenings. Now we can meet people where they are at in the community and will respond to crisis situations anywhere in the community,” Noble said. “We are working towards a firehouse model similar to EMS.”

Sweet explained that currently, county staff respond to crisis calls in passenger vehicles. The new van provides them with an actual work space that will hold items that may be needed in a crisis intervention situation. 

Sweet said that although Linn County will continue to work closely with EMTs and law enforcement, the van will provide services independently of those agencies. The mobile crisis response model requires that two county staff are present when working with people in need.

The unit will start rolling out as soon as all staff members are checked out driving it. 

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