Ready at a Moment’s Notice

Mobile Crisis Team serves community in need.

By Rosie Ecker

Each person’s job at UC Health has an impact in some way on the patients we serve. From the ICU, to payroll, to rehab services, to billing, each UC Health team member plays an important and necessary part.

There is a UC Health psychiatry social work team however, whose days are significantly different from most others across our system.

The Mobile Crisis Team—a group of 13 social workers—travel across the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton Co. 7 days a week providing emergency psychiatric evaluations. Although a close-knit team, they work individually, often in pairs of two, driving their own vehicle to reach out to people who are having a mental health crisis, or need.

Each Mobile Crisis Team member is tasked with a specific responsibility. On a given day, one will triage incoming phone calls, two will make daily runs, and three are stationed at police district headquarters locations across Cincinnati, serving Hamilton Co. Their roles switch weekly.
“Often times, people who are having a mental health issue may not need to go to a hospital,” says Kathy Miller, social work manager for the Mobile Crisis Team. “They may just need to be reminded to call their case manager. In other cases, the situation is severe and the Mobile Crisis Team social worker can help de-escalate.” The social workers are Health Officers and can sign a Statement of Belief if the person is in need of further psychiatric evaluation.

In a typical month, the Mobile Crisis Team receives 245 calls and makes over 170 runs. A run may be to a homeless shelter or a public library. The only constant for these social workers is knowing that the next day will be different.

The members of this team have high energy and intense drive to help others. Their days are tough and can be heart-wrenching, yet they look forward to the next run, the next case, the next person to help.

Julie Desmond, a social worker on the team says, “It doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to, but when it does, we know why we are doing this job and why we love it.”

When asked what kind of a person it takes to be on the Mobile Crisis Team, Kathy, doesn’t hesitate to respond: “There is a sense of bravery, of compassion and a big sense of empathy. These social workers feel good assisting people with mental health issues, and absolutely love their job.”
Especially during the winter months, Kathy says, it is important to know about the Mobile Crisis Team and spread the word about this valuable resource. Services are free for Hamilton County residents. The program is funded through the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board generated from the Hamilton County Mental Health Tax Levy.

You can reach the Mobile Crisis Team at 513-584-5098.

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