On Friday, April 1st, the Whatcom County Health Department officially launched its Response Systems Division, a new division focused on serving people in mental or behavioral health crises and building infrastructure to provide coordinated services. The division will house the GRACE and LEAD programs, formerly administered by Sea Mar Community Health Centers, as well as other initiatives under development.
Created in 2018, the Ground-Level Response and Coordinated Engagement program (GRACE) provides intensive support to people who are frequent users of emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement (LE), hospital emergency department (ED), and the Whatcom County jail. In 2019, GRACE expanded to include the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which works with people with multiple low-level criminal offenses.
The 13 staffers of GRACE and LEAD serve 180-200 people at any given time, with a waiting list of 75-80 people identified through EMS contacts alone. Services are tailored to the specific needs of members, with each member spending dozens of hours with intensive case managers before they “graduate” from the program.
These programs devote a significant amount of time and resources to members, and have proven to be very successful. In 2021, GRACE members’ usage of emergency medical services dropped by 97%, jail bookings dropped by 84%, and emergency department visits dropped by 62%. Additionally, jail bookings of LEAD members dropped by 97%.
In the coming year, the Response Systems Division will also add:
In addition, the following existing programs will move from the Human Services division to the new Response Division.
For more information, visit the Response Systems webpage, or watch this video!
View the Response Systems services timeline, a roadmap to the services that will be provided in the coming years.