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With property purchase, Northeast Kingdom is one step closer to walk-in mental health urgent care 

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A building with a sign in the middle of a field.
A building with a sign in the middle of a field.
Northeast Kingdom Human Services plans to open a mental health urgent care facility in this Newport building later this year. Courtesy photo

A new mental health urgent care program slated to open this summer has secured a location in Newport, the latest in a growing number of facilities intended to stabilize Vermonters in acute mental health crises.

The Front Porch, a Northeast Kingdom Human Services initiative, will offer short-term stays to Vermonters experiencing mental health distress or suicidal thinking. The goal is to provide an accessible facility to help stabilize patients, while freeing up precious space in hospital wards. 

“We’re seeing high utilization of emergency room departments, and just needed a more specific targeted approach to support folks who are in crisis,” said Kelsey Stavseth, the executive director of Northeast Kingdom Human Services, a nonprofit designated by the state to provide support services in the region.

Advocates — notably, Newport couple Chris and Betty Barrett, who lost a son to suicide in 2004 — have pushed for such a facility for years. Last month, Northeast Kingdom Human Services purchased a Lakemont Road property, and it expects to open the facility this summer, once renovations are complete. 

Administrators plan to offer four to six rooms and employ approximately 11 full-time staff and six part-time staff. 

With a dearth of specialized mental health facilities, particularly in rural areas, people experiencing acute mental health crises have increasingly ended up in hospital emergency departments. Some stay there for months at a time. 

That can strain hospital resources — and land struggling Vermonters in a stressful and sometimes dangerous hospital environment.

The Front Porch aims to provide a better model. The walk-in facility will have the goal of stabilizing patients, which could mean a same-day meeting with a clinician, outpatient treatment, or a short stay of up to 10 days. 

“It can be a first responder drop off for law enforcement for EMS. People can walk in. They can be referred there. We can transport them there,” Stavseth said. The overall goal is “essentially, being able to get to people who need support right away.”

Read the story on VTDigger here: With property purchase, Northeast Kingdom is one step closer to walk-in mental health urgent care .


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