/ April 16, 2021

NYC Well and Mobile Crisis Teams: Bringing medication to people in their communities

Every day for seven years, Dr. Lance Winslow has made the hours-long commute from his home to Kings County Hospital in Central Brooklyn. At the hospital, Dr. Winslow is known for always serving members of the community with a smile on his face – even though his job leading a Mobile Crisis Team is a stressful one, pandemic or not.

Dispatched via NYC Well or NYC Health + Hospital facilities, Mobile Crisis Teams typically provide in-person services to people with an urgent mental health problem. While medical staff in traditional clinical settings have access to a number of supports – like detailed medical histories – Mobile Crisis Teams often arrive at a home with limited information, sometimes only an address and phone number.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital psychiatric staff noticed that some of their patients with serious mental illness were missing their appointments, leaving them without the medication they need to manage symptoms. The number of patients who regularly came in to receive long-acting injections at the Kings County Outpatient Center dropped dramatically.

That’s when Dr. Winslow stepped up. He saw an opportunity for Mobile Crisis Teams to reach the New Yorkers who couldn’t safely come to the outpatient clinic.

Dr. Winslow and his team began traveling to people’s homes to administer their psychiatric medications, in addition to the normal functions his team provides on a daily basis. It was the first time Mobile Crisis Teams proactively delivered medication and support to patients outside of the NYC Well referral system.

“We had never done this before,” said Dr. Renuka Ananthamoorthy, Chief of Behavioral Health Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County Hospital. “But Dr. Winslow is innovative and passionate about his work, and now even more so during the coronavirus outbreak. He came to work every day and said all he needed was a mask, glove, and hand sanitizer. As long as he had those three things, he would go see his patients.” 

From Dr. Winslow:
“I look forward to my work due to the amazing potential to change and impact lives each and every day. Going out into the community to assess, support and brainstorm solutions with our consumers who face a variety of challenges, is not only the most exciting profession, but the most rewarding job available.”

Community mental health program: NYC Well and Mobile Crisis Teams
NYC Well, the City’s comprehensive mental health helpline and a signature ThriveNYC program, deploys Mobile Crisis Teams operated by hospitals and community-based organizations to respond to urgent mental health needs. Deployed approximately 21,000 times per year, Mobile Crisis Teams often serve children and adults in their homes. Mobile Crisis Teams can include nurses, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, community liaisons and peers. Teams can arrive within hours of a referral and services can include assessment, crisis counseling, and connection to ongoing services.