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Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants $3.8M to Nevada DHHS to Bring Virtual Crisis Care Program to Nevada

Virtual Crisis Care Offers Law Enforcement Officers 24/7 Access To Mental Health Professionals

LAS VEGAS, June 29, 2022  — The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is granting $3.8 million to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services to equip 11 law enforcement agencies with tablets, allowing officers to provide 24/7 access to behavioral health professionals via telehealth.

Nevada’s population of 3.1 million people is spread over 110,567 square miles, providing unique challenges for a coordinated behavioral health crisis-care response across the state’s rural and frontier landscape. The Virtual Crisis Care program will ensure that Nevada’s most remote residents receive the same exceptional behavioral health care they would receive in Las Vegas or Reno.

“Nevadans across the state all deserve access to care when in need or experiencing a crisis. I am so thankful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their partnership on this innovative project that will put resources into the hands of our rural law enforcement officers,” said Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Walter Panzirer, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, and state officials introduced Virtual Crisis Care on Wednesday during a news conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Nevada’s program is modeled after a South Dakota pilot program that helps officers call on trained experts to de-escalate mental health crises such as suicide ideation, self-harm, and depression.

“This partnership between law enforcement and behavioral health professionals has been instrumental in providing top-notch care on scene while reducing unnecessary trips to emergency rooms, mental health hospitals, and jails,” Panzirer said. “We’re excited to help bring this innovative program to Nevada and improve rural and frontier residents’ access to vital mental health resources.”

One in five calls to law enforcement involve a person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the national nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center. Virtual Crisis Care will help more of those individuals receive immediate care from mental health professionals in the privacy of their own homes, or wherever the crisis is occurring.

“Providing access to mental health care for all Nevadans is a priority, and being able to work with our law enforcement partners to equip them with the tools and make sure that happens is a major step forward,” said Misty Vaughan Allen, Nevada’s state suicide prevention coordinator. “This new telehealth option will allow immediate, on-site assistance to anyone in crisis.”

The agencies participating in the program are the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, the Eureka County Sheriff’s Office, the Elko Police Department, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Lander County Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Mesquite Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the West Wendover Police Department, the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office and the Winnemucca Police Department.

Under the Virtual Crisis Care program, law enforcement officers in the field can call the crisis response team at Avel eCare to request a safety assessment. Officers then provide the person needing help with a tablet for a video consult. Once the crisis response team completes the assessment and communicates with law enforcement, they work to establish follow-up care with local mental health resources.

The program will make a huge difference in the town of Elko, which sits about 200 miles from any large urban area and lacks significant mental health resources, said Elko Police Chief Ty Trouten. Using tablets, Elko police officers will be able to respond to people’s homes and connect them with quality care and follow-up.

“I believe that this will make a significant difference,” Trouten said. “It’s going to be another piece in the puzzle for our resource list and our spectrum of care that we can provide. I’m very grateful for it and look forward to great things from it.”

The Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved the initial $1.3 million installment of grant funding on June 21 to help launch and support the Virtual Crisis Care program.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $500 million to organizations and initiatives in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

About the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) promotes the health and well-being of its residents through the delivery or facilitation of a multitude of essential services to ensure families are strengthened, public health is protected, and individuals achieve their highest level of self-sufficiency. The Department is comprised of five Divisions along with additional programs and offices overseen by the DHHS’ Director’s Office. For more information go to DHHS.nv.gov.


Contact: Dirk Lammers, dirk@ceteraservices.com, (605) 254-3472

Online media kit: https://helmsleytrust.box.com/s/0x4swt3bbwrxj7aqmvxk0jhnfqck4shl