Rochester Regional Health unveiled a new mental health center at its Saint Mary’s campus Monday.
The center, slated to open Tuesday, is designed to take some of the pressure off emergency rooms where people in mental health crises often go for care, said Rochester Regional’s vice president for behavioral health Jill Graziano.
Graziano said the clinic will also prevent emergency room visits in another way: helping people get mental health support before their difficulties turn into a crisis. It’s intended for people who don’t know exactly where to turn, she said.
“It’s a new and different way to access services,” said Graziano. “So rather than call and make an appointment, you come in, and then we will call and make appointments for you for follow-up care.”
Rochester Regional Health CEO Eric Bieber said the center’s opening is timely. “We all know we’re in an opioid epidemic,” he said. “We have all sorts of access today to help us treat patients, but I think sometimes people don’t realize what’s here and what’s available.”
Bieber and Graziano said the new center will be equipped to evaluate people who are dependent on opioids or other drugs and help direct them to the most appropriate treatment.
Graziano said the center is not only new for the Rochester region, but for the state. There was not a regulatory framework in place to govern the combination of emergency services and urgent mental health care it plans to provide, she said.
The center is slated to open Tuesday at the Genesee Street campus, with initial hours from 8:00 a.m. to midnight. Bieber said he expects the center to expand to a 24-hour operation after an initial pilot period.