COVID-19: Here is the information you need to know about masking, testing, vaccinations and more.

Latest News, Community Partnership

Grand Itasca Announces Enhanced Care For Behavioral Health Patients In Emergency Department

Learn about the improved process for assessing behavioral health emergencies at Grand Itasca, through a strategic partnership with BHP.
  • March 10, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

Thanks to a new relationship with Behavioral Healthcare Providers (“BHP”), patients who come to the Grand Itasca emergency department with symptoms of a behavioral health crisis are quickly assessed by a licensed mental health clinician. 

BHP is a non-profit behavioral health care organization that provides assessments, treatment recommendations and care coordination to patients in 35 emergency rooms across the state of Minnesota.

Collaborative Care

In collaboration with Grand Itasca’s emergency doctors and nursing staff, BHP clinicians work with the patient to understand their immediate and future needs. Their assessments are based on demonstrated best practices in emergency psychiatric care. 

BHP’s established network of resources means that patients are either admitted to the nearest inpatient facility with an available bed, or set up with appointments and connected to appropriate community providers prior to leaving Grand Itasca’s emergency department.

In just the first two months of the new partnership, Grand Itasca patients had 55 consults with BHP. Here’s an overview of how these visits impacted our community


  • The median wait time for the assessment to start was 26 minutes. 
  • The median duration of the consultation was 22 minutes, with the longest consult being just over one hour. 
  • More than one-third of patients served were ages 10-19. 
  • The majority (60%) of patients needing this service presented to Grand Itasca in the evening between the hours of 3pm-11pm.
  • Primary diagnoses ranged from major depressive disorder to attention deficit disorder (ADD), anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.

How It Works

The assessments are conducted via telemedicine, meaning the clinician is on a computer screen. “Certainly we were hesitant about our patients’ experience talking to a provider on a screen, but patients have responded really well to it. It actually feels like the clinician is right there in the room with the patient,” says Amy Richling, RN, Emergency Department. “The process is also really quick, meaning patients are getting the care they need in the moment and then are connected to a place that can provide them ongoing specialized care, all in a much shorter timeframe than we were able to before. That is good news for our other emergency patients too, as it means less wait time for everyone.”


Grand Itasca has historically relied on Itasca County’s Crisis Response Team (“CRT”) when patients were experiencing behavioral crises in the emergency department. However, with a steady increase in the number of patients experiencing these crises, CRT was spending more and more of their resources in the Grand Itasca emergency room. The addition of BHP to Grand Itasca’s emergency room allows CRT to focus on their work in the community, while continuing to support patients at Grand Itasca. CRT was critical in establishing protocols and will continue to be an integral part of caring for Grand Itasca’s patients, in collaboration with BHP.


“We are so happy to be able to bring BHP to our patients in the emergency room, supplementing our long-standing relationship with CRT,” says Jean MacDonell, President & CEO of Grand Itasca. “With the number of mental health patients,  continuing to rise, locally and nationally, we need all hands on deck to provide the best possible care to our community and patients in need.”