State human service centers trying to eliminate 'wait lists'

Aug 7, 2017

A program to reduce “wait times” for people seeking treatment for an addiction or a mental health need is now available at regional human service centers statewide.

It’s called “Open Access.”

"It's essentially the equivalent of a medical clinic's 'walk in' scenario," said Dr. Rosalie Etherington, the chief clinics officer for the North Dakota Department of Human Services. "Instead of a person calling in and setting up an appointment, that may be a week, two weeks or a month down the road, to come in and be assessed, we identify a certain number of hours that we are open, and say, 'Come on it -- let's assess you immediately.'"

Etherington said the goal is to eliminate wait lists – and eliminate “no shows.”

"Inevitably, if a person has to wait for a period of time, sometimes they just say, 'Forget it,'" Etherington said.

Etherington said when you provide the care when a person says there’s a need, that person will likely stay in care and get the services they need.

"What it has allowed us to do is to identify the individuals in need and the services necessary at the time of need," Etherington said. "When we don't make people wait, we know who has the need."

Etherington said the efforts have also caused the human service centers to make partnerships with private providers in their communities.

"We canot see everybody that comes through our door," Etherington said.