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Maine DHHS, Spurwink opening state's first comprehensive crisis center

The location at 62 Elm St. in Portland will eventually offer services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Credit: Spurwink
Spurwink Crisis Receiving Center at 62 Elm Street in Portland, Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland is now home to Maine's first comprehensive crisis receiving center for people dealing with behavioral, mental health, or substance abuse issues.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced the opening Thursday afternoon. In a news release, DHHS wrote the Crisis Receiving Center is a place "where Maine people experiencing a behavioral health crisis can receive expert, compassionate care in a welcoming, home-like environment and be supported by individuals with lived experience of mental health and substance use challenges."

DHHS contracted with Spurwink to develop and implement the Crisis Center, which will soon be open 24/7. People can currently get services from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week, with psychiatry available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday for now, according to Spurwink's vice president of development, Kristen Farnham.

DHHS said the CRC "provides an important alternative to hospital emergency departments and the corrections system." Part of the governor and legislature's investment in the biennial budget supports the project.

"The Living Room Crisis Center is 100% voluntary," Farnham said in an email. "We are able to provide support for people at the LRCC, but people should still access mobile crisis and 774-HELP for other needs. People needing inpatient hospitalization should still go to the emergency department."

In addition, DHHS announced that starting next week that it will begin distributing $9.3 million in monthly MaineCare payments to 442 mental health and substance use disorder service providers to support immediate workforce needs.

"DHHS is prioritizing the payments to bolster community-based services for mental health and substance use disorders that have been strained by the pandemic and its ongoing effects," a spokesperson wrote.

She wrote that the $9.3 million in supplement payments come from the biennial budget the Legislature passed and the governor signed. She added it will "strengthen behavioral health services for adults and children throughout the state -- including children's home and community-based treatment, assertive community treatment, and substance use disorder services — by helping providers pay their direct service workers at least 125 percent of Maine's minimum wage, consistent with other provisions in the biennial budget."

Payments will continue monthly through the end of the calendar year, and amounts are based on each provider's prior 12 months of claims for eligible services.

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