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Cardinal Innovations’ Grant Targets Those With Behavioral Health Conditions Who Seek Treatment At Emergency Rooms

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — May 18, 2021
Charlotte, NC, May 18, 2021 For the under - or uninsured, the homeless or other vulnerable populations, hospital emergency rooms are the first and sometimes only option for treating behavioral health conditions. Cardinal Innovations Healthcare and a Triad-based provider are working to deliver the support and care these patients need in a setting more conducive to their recovery and overall wellbeing.

Cardinal Innovations awarded a $110,000 community reinvestment grant to GreenTree Peer Center in Winston-Salem to support operations of the 24-hour program including staffing with specially qualified Peer Crisis Support staff to assist behavioral health patients discharged from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

GreenTree offers a specialized peer-to-peer crisis support model in a setting designed to make patients feel safer and emotionally grounded. Patients are discharged from the emergency room to a comfortably furnished shelter where they may rest, get a meal, shower and wash their clothes. Trained counselors then assist them with emotional support and help securing housing, medications, referrals to mental health and substance use recovery programs and other resources. A typical stay is up to 24-hours.

“The majority of patients in the hospital’s emergency departments are homeless, without routine health or mental health care and suffer from other disparities such poor nutrition or transportation challenges. Many are indigent, struggle with addiction or have no family support,” said Laurie Coker, GreenTree Director. “With this grant, we hope to expand our successful model of supporting these vulnerable populations by emphasizing personal resilience through caring and peer-supported problem-solving.”

In the first two months of a pilot program, GreenTree helped 21 individuals find placement in shelters, with friends or loved ones, and addiction recovery settings.

“Before, many of these folks would have been released into the streets with no one supporting their safety or linkage to needed solutions,” said GreenTree Director, Laurie. “But a crisis is an opportunity to help them onto a different path, toward personal resilience through peer-supported problem-solving and validation of their personhood.”
“Until families and systems re-think what happens during a behavioral health crisis, we will continue to over-use hospital emergency departments and people will miss the opportunity to develop personal resilience in a supported way,” said Trey Sutten, Cardinal Innovations CEO. “GreenTree has proven that targeting vulnerable populations with specialized services can put them on a different, better path toward recovery and good health. We welcome the opportunity to support GreenTree in this promising endeavor, which we believe will inform needed solutions in the Triad’s community mental health system.”

About Cardinal Innovations Healthcare: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic. Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.

About GreenTree: GreenTree Peer Center is a community setting that includes peer members, community folks who join in with us to support and participate in activities, and individuals who seek to partner with us to ensure that Winston-Salem has an integrated, inclusive setting that supports people's health, growth, and recovery of quality of life. GreenTree is operated by Peer Facilitators, individuals who are certified in North Carolina as Peer Support Specialists and practice supporting others through the expertise gained through their own paths of finding well-being even after experiencing active addiction or other periods of mental ill being. They also have received training to enhance their ability to respond in safe and supportive ways to help others find well-being and recovery.

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