The Link’s first patient walked through its doors 15 minutes after they opened on June 1, 2021.
Since then, the Sioux Falls Mental Health and Addictions Center has served more than 1,400 people and eased stress from local jails and hospitals, said Bill Earley, executive director of The Link.
But this year has also highlighted some limits to the center, he told city councilors and county commissioners when they met together on Tuesday evening.
Between June 1, 2021 and June 1 this year, there were 4,001 triage visits to the center by 1,426 people.
“Frequent faces” were always part of the expectation for The Link, Earley said, with his presentation showing the top 10 users of the center’s sobering viewing program along with their number of visits and current status.
At the top was a client who accounted for 113 of the 2,340 total visits to the sobering center from June 1, 2021 to May 31. Taken together, the top 10 visitors represent a total of 639 visits, more than a quarter of the total.
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Five of them remain in the community, listed as “not sober”. Two are incarcerated and one has been transferred to his country of origin. One is dead.
The 10th is sober and in treatment after 59 trips to The Link, a visitor that Mayor Paul TenHaken repeatedly referenced in comments about the center.
The presentation showed The Link saw just under 11 daily admissions to a sobering sighting per day, with visitors spending around six and a half hours on average.
The withdrawal management program recorded 418 visits during this period, with a completion rate of 77%.
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“It’s huge,” Earley said. “That’s a big number.”
Nearly 90% of treatments concerned alcohol withdrawal and 75% of those treated lived alone or with at least one other person.
The center’s crisis stabilization unit, however, needs further evaluation, Earley said. It has been used 31 times and is limited in the care it can provide: actively suicidal or violent patients cannot be accepted, stays are limited to 23 hours and staff are a particular challenge.
Earley added that the recent opening of the Avera Behavioral Health Center, which includes a 24/7 urgent care center for behavioral health, has impacted the need for this guy. treatment at The Link.
56% of The Link’s visitors were Native American, with white visitors accounting for an additional 34%. Three quarters of the visitors were between 30 and 59 years old.
Statistics also showed that almost half of all visitors to The Link were brought there by law enforcement, with less than a quarter arriving alone. An additional 22% were brought in by security associated with Sanford or Avera.
While he noted success with withdrawal management and transportation, Earley said there were several service gaps they sought to fill, including psychiatric medication management, transitional housing for sex offenders or people with a history of assault and local options for treating methamphetamine addictions.
“We have what we need, we think, for now,” he said of the staff, although that could change if visitor numbers increase.
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Still, Earley said The Link’s successes outweighed the challenges, citing the ability to stay open 24/7 and continued support from partners.
While hard data is still not available on how effectively the center has saved time and resources for local hospitals, Earley said, “Anecdotally, they tell us it’s had a significant impact, a positive impact, on their ability to provide health care to others in our community for other issues.”