Newport News CARE team members have been busy since program launch


NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia – Residents of Newport News have a new resource for mental health crises.

The city launched what it calls its Community Assistance Response Program, or CARE, on July 19. Since then, team members say they have been very busy.

“We expected a slow start as people got to know us, but we got off to a quick start. Everyone calls us if there is any chance to help the patient or help the person the police are helping. They call us, it’s great. We try to see as many people as possible, ”said Georgia Wolkowich, a paramedic with the Newport News CARE team.

The program is managed by the Newport News Fire Department and the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board. The Newport News Police Department and Riverside Health System are also partners in the effort.

“The lack of mental health crisis services across the country has led law enforcement officers to serve as first responders in most incidents,” Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price said, DDS.

Newport News Fire Department Battalion Commander Mark Kain said they had worked hard to implement this program and it was only one piece of the puzzle.

“The state has implemented a bigger plan,” said Battalion Commander Kain. “Part of that is a call center that will have a number that people can call if there is a problem. “

Related: ‘I Care About You’: Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Explains De-escalation Technique During Mental Health Call

The Newport News CARE team has two teams who share the week of service. Each team consists of a paramedic from the Newport News Fire Department and a mental health professional from the Community Services Board.

“Every time we go to see a patient, we spend as much time as they need. We sort of tailor our care for them to what they need at the time, ”Wolkowich added.

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