Community Transitions partnership will connect residents with behavioral health services and additional supports via direct outreach and engagement
Mukilteo, Wash. – Today Compass Health and the City of Mukilteo announced the launch of Community Transitions, a program designed to provide behavioral health resources to at-risk individuals in the community. Through a partnership with the Mukilteo Police Department, Compass Health has embedded a trained mental health professional with law enforcement staff to engage members of the community and connect them to services, with opportunities to coordinate further outreach across South County region.
“We created the Community Transitions program to provide an alternative solution for connecting individuals with behavioral health services and resources, helping to shift away from high-frequency use of emergency services and toward more appropriate, recovery-oriented pathways,” said Charissa Westergard, director of healthcare integration at Compass Health, which developed Community Transitions. “This program is a key tool to meeting the needs of people facing mental health, substance use or housing challenges – and we’re looking forward to collaborating with the Mukilteo Police Department to take this step forward.”
Community Transitions teams connect individuals with a spectrum of services, including mental health and substance use treatment, medical care, shelter assistance, food vouchers and more. The effort helps to reduce reliance on law enforcement, local emergency rooms and other emergency services, and to more sustainably manage health and safety needs through collaboration, outreach, and engagement.
Recently, Compass Health’s Community Transitions professional, Leah Winter, began travelling throughout the Mukilteo community with members of the Mukilteo Police Department to engage in outreach to at-risk individuals. Winter has worked in several health services roles, primarily focused on providing supportive counseling, crisis intervention, case management, and advocacy to individuals and families experiencing mental health and substance use concerns.
“By integrating Leah into our department, and throughout our work in the community, we will be more equipped to respond to individuals experiencing behavioral health concerns and connect them with needs-based services and support,” said Cheol Kang, Police Chief of the Mukilteo Police Department. “This partnership allows us to not only address the rising demands for mental health support in our community, but also coordinate with other Community Transitions partners on a regional level.”
Compass Health first implemented the Community Transitions model in Snohomish County in 2016, through a partnership with South County Fire and expanded to a second partnership with the Lynnwood Police Department and Mountlake Terrace Police Department in 2020, both of which were sponsored by a grant from the Verdant Health Commission. The organization also recently established a new Community Transitions partnership with the City of Edmonds, which expands the program to five area communities.
In addition to these Community Transitions programs, Compass Health offers a range of community response services across the region. The agency’s Snohomish County Triage Center, located in Everett, enables law enforcement officers to drop off individuals who need crisis intervention and stabilization, helping to avoid alternative options such as jail or trips to the emergency department.
“Through these programs, we’re working hard to provide the supports that are essential for better outcomes – and because individuals are connected to the right types of services for their needs, we are able to use resources more effectively for more people,” Westergard said. “We’re pleased to be able to partner with leaders in Mukilteo to ensure this key component of community response is available to residents there.”
To learn more about Compass Health Community Transitions, please visit compasshealth.org/services/community-transitions/.
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