NCHC crisis team helping mental health cases during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 9:57 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Crisis Center at the North Central Health Care Wausau location has been doing most of its work indoors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The only crisis group that has been doing work in the community has been the Crisis Assessment Reaction Team or CART.

“Marathon County dispatch reaches out to them when there is something going on in the community that is clearly mental health-based,” NCHC director of adult behavioral health services Trisha Stefonek said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, CART received a fairly low number of calls, but that was not the case last fall.

“There have been periods especially when the school year got rolling where we were seeing an increase of youth cases they would respond to,” Stefonek explained.

CART takes care of many youth and family cases. Out of all the workers, people have a clear fan favorite.

“Alvin is our North Central Health Care therapy dog. He joined our CART team about a year ago. He has been a secret weapon because therapy dogs provide that extra service of calming,” Stefonek added.

Alvin has truly earned his place with the other CART members. In fact, he gets special requests for a few cases he goes to.

“We do get special requests where an officer may already be on the scene and asks that the CART team brings Alvin because they know that it’ll be a benefit,” Stefonek said.

Whether it’s the CART team or the rest of NCHC, the Wausau community is well taken care of.

“The hospitals, our full crisis team, they’ve really been on the front line throughout this. Helping all of the individuals in the community that they can,” Stefonek said.

NCHC expects their crisis teams to be fully mobile by March after their members receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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