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Pulaski County Crisis Stabilization Unit offers ER, jail alternative for people in crisis

Since opening its doors in 2018, the Pulaski County Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit has treated about 2,000 people.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In moments of crisis, people often don’t know where to turn. A partnership between the state, Pulaski County and UAMS is providing help.

Since opening its doors in 2018, the Pulaski County Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit has treated about 2,000 people.

“We are really focused on the concept of recovery,” clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Evans said. “The second people hit the door, were thinking positive, helping them identify their short-term recovery goals.”

Evans is among the UAMS employees who staff the 16-bed facility.

“I've just always been really drawn to people who are sort of at their worst,” she said. “It's easy to help because there's so much to be done.”

The goal of the Crisis Stabilization Unit is is to help law enforcement divert people from the justice system when they're facing chemical dependency or a psychiatric crisis.

“We work really closely with police officers to have immediate access to care,” Evans said. “So if they're encountering somebody on the street, whether they're in any kind of trouble or not, an officer who's trained in crisis intervention can go and encounter that person, engage them, and quickly get them to us.”

The unit is an alternative to the emergency room or jail. Once admitted, patients not only get the immediate medication and intervention they may need, but staff also works to identify barriers to long-term recovery.

“Transportation, ID, insurance – those seem like simple things –but they're not,” Evans said.

The average stay is about three days, but they hope it's just the beginning of a person's recovery.

“We try to make sure everybody has a destination, whether that's an appointment with the local community health center, or go straight into residential rehab,” Evans said.

Though the work is hardly easy, Evans says it's absolutely worthwhile.

“It's just really, really rewarding to see people come here, and when they leave, they are better even though it's three days later,” she said.

The crisis stabilization unit is open 24/7 for anyone who is in crisis. It is located on West Roosevelt, near the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office.

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