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Mobile/Baldwin County Access Now Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)

COVID-19 has left both community mental providers and law enforcement with staffing shortages affecting the ability to assist law enforcement in diverting individuals with mental health disorders and co-occurring substance use disorders (MHD/MHSUD) from incarceration. Force multipliers, such as telehealth technology, will allow deputies to communicate immediately with a clinician located in a 24-hour behavioral health crisis diversion center, saving the time spent waiting for a clinician to travel to them. Other similar programs report the average clinician assessment taking approximately 20 minutes, resulting in over an 80% reduction in the length of call for deputies.

The Access Now program is a collaboration between AltaPointe Health Systems, Inc. (lead applicant), the community mental health provider, Mobile County Sheriff's Office, and Baldwin County Sheriff's Office providing all deputies with iPad telehealth technology in their vehicles. Baldwin County is the largest county, by size, in Alabama and is primarily rural, making in-person clinical response extremely challenging. Mobile County is a combination of a large metropolitan area flanked by rural and unincorporated areas. The target population is those individuals, their families, or businesses who call 911 in a behavioral health crisis. The number of individuals served is expected to be 4,500, with a federal request of $550,000. 

All deputies will receive training in basic crisis de-escalation, use of telehealth iPads, and crisis center diversion. Thirty percent of deputies will be trained in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training. A program director and clinicians, preferably with lived experience, will provide evaluation, intervention, and referral via telehealth. Additionally, AltaPointe’s Crisis Response Team will provide follow-up to reduce recidivism. 

 The program goals are to decrease the number of arrests; reduce the number of “use of force” and “officer-involved” incidents; reduce future calls for services to 911, using 988 instead; decrease the length of time officers are on scene in these calls; increase the number of trained officers in the field; increase the use of the 24-hour crisis center rather than incarceration; and increase engagement in treatment for women, minority, and underserved individuals. The University of South Alabama will collect data needed for sustainability. 

Access Now will address the needs of those with difficulty accessing mental health services due to racial inequality, from underserved or marginalized populations, the rural status of Baldwin County, and special women's services utilizing evidence-based programs.

Date Created: September 26, 2023