Published on August 18, 2017

Vera French And Genesis Philanthropy Launch Assertive Community Treatment Mental Health Team


Davenport will be the sixth Iowa city to implement Assertive Community Treatment combining the expertise of Vera French Community Mental Health Center and funding from Genesis Philanthropy.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is evidence-based treatment for community members with serious behavioral health issues who continue to struggle with day-to-day functioning despite frequent visits to the emergency room and multiple inpatient hospital stays.

ACT is a multidisciplinary team approach that includes behavioral health specialists trained specifically to engage individuals with difficult-to-treat behavioral health conditions and provide them with services wherever and whenever those services are needed, including mental health assessment and counseling, medication management, assistance with housing and employment, and crisis management.

ACT provides long-term treatment through a mobile crisis management team made up of a consulting psychiatrist, a clinically-trained team leader, a nurse practitioner, social workers, nurses, substance abuse specialists, employment specialists, and peer support specialists with personal, successful experience with mental health recovery. The ACT team can be mobilized quickly on a 24/7/365 basis to meet the needs of those individuals being served in the program.

ACT teams work to manage clients experiencing a mental health crisis while also linking the person with other services available.

“This is an intensive service for individuals in Davenport who suffer from chronic behavioral health issues that have been unsuccessfully treated,’’ explained Richard Whitaker, CEO of Vera French Mental Health Center.  “ACT has been proven through extensive research and over 40 years of practice to be an effective intervention program with excellent treatment outcomes, significant cost savings, increased safety, and many other benefits to the community.  However, the startup costs are significant and can be prohibitive in implementing ACT teams.

“We needed financial support to bring ACT to Davenport.  Genesis Philanthropy not only supported the idea, but stepped up financially to make it a reality.’’

Genesis Philanthropy is donating $496,000 for startup costs required for the first two years of ACT operation in Davenport.

“While others have talked about the need for more inpatient beds, Genesis has not only been talking about the identified need of additional outpatient services, but has been the leader in introducing those services to the mental health community,’’ said Missy Gowey, executive director of Genesis Foundation and Genesis Philanthropy.  “Genesis has also expanded the number of inpatient beds however, our larger focus has been on providing the appropriate care before inpatient care is necessary.

“We are excited about making ACT available because of what it will mean for this segment of the population.  ACT means fewer inpatient hospitalizations, fewer incarcerations for crimes and the virtual elimination of homelessness for a large number of people with chronic behavioral health issues.’’

The success rate of Iowa ACT teams has been dramatic for individuals served:

•    80 percent reduction in hospitalization days
•    80 percent reduction in jail time
•    75 percent reduction in homeless days
•    Clients are 2.5 times more likely to be employed

ACT teams in Iowa have also been found to reduce responses for police, fire and emergency personnel.  ACT also reduces burdens on hospital emergency departments and inpatient behavioral health units.

Whitaker said the Davenport ACT team will launch with six team members and could be serving up to 80 individuals with serious mental illness by the end of the first year of full operation.  He said the ACT team will be able to add approximately six new clients each month until the team is actively treating 80 to 100 individuals.

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