When Children’s of Alabama performed its Community Needs Assessments in 2013, 2016 and 2019, mental and behavioral health were found to be among the top priorities for pediatric health. The Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) at Children’s, established in 2018 as part of Children’s Behavioral Health program, plays an integral role in connecting communities to mental and behavioral health services statewide. In 2019, the PIRC served more than 5,800 callers and patients, fielded more than 2,200 calls and consulted on over 3,600 Emergency Department patients.
Children’s Behavioral Health, in partnership with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, has qualified for a $2.09 million Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Tele-Mental Health grant. Children’s Pediatric Access to Tele-mental Health Services (PATHS) program launched in 2019 with the UAB School of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Public Health as sub-contractors. PATHS provides behavioral health education, collaboration and consultation to rural pediatricians. The grant identified the PIRC as having the infrastructure for connecting pediatricians to mental health providers in their communities.
The PIRC also partners with Children’s Behavioral Access Center, also established in 2019 and designed to provide more access to Children’s Behavioral Health outpatient services at the hospital’s Ireland Center, Children’s Behavioral Health Patriot Park and community mental health services. On average, the PIRC referred 48 patients and callers a month to Children’s outpatient services last year. In addition, the PIRC has been actively involved in the development of a Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Program slated to launch this year.
The PIRC continues to receive generous support from the Anne B. LaRussa Foundation of Hope. The Hill Crest Foundation, in its efforts to improve mental health access, committed $300,000 to the PIRC in 2019. As we continue to forge ahead with our 2020 goals, we remain steadfast in helping children, families and providers navigate the mental health system. Any adult with a mental health question or concern regarding a child or adolescent is encouraged to call the PIRC at (205) 638-PIRC (7472). The PIRC is open seven days a week, year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. More information about the PIRC is available online at childrensal.org/PIRC.
For more information about the PATHS program, visit childrensal.org/PATHS or contact PATHS Director Susan Griffin at (205) 638-5673 or email email@example.com.
Cynthia “Cindy” M. Jones is the director of the Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC) at Children’s of Alabama.
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