Psychiatric Urgent Care Kids (PUCK) is an innovative concept in action in Bennington Couty – the very first of its kind in the state of Vermont.
PUCK provides a safe alternative crisis intervention site for elementary-aged children who are in mental or psychological distress at school to keep them out of the emergency department (ED).
Community members such as police officers, counselors, emergency response personnel, and staff from local schools were invited to an open house to tour the PUCK space in UCS’s Youth and Family Services Center in Bennington, Vermont on Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
When you walk into the space that houses PUCK – the immediate impression is sunny, welcoming, and home-like. The space is well-stocked with kid-friendly activities, games, toys, books, and sensory tools. The facility also features a sensory therapy room with various tools – a swing, weighted blankets, tactile items, mood lights, sound-blocking headphones, and other inviting items. Another room functions as a quiet space with a bed, comforting signage, an armchair, soothing mood lights, and other materials to create a calming environment.
PUCK was created to directly address the issue of increasing utilization of the emergency department by youth in crisis, and the negative consequences associated with this trend. Local schools in Bennington County were seeing a spike in the number of kids in crisis at school that were transferred to the ED. In the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, UCS reported assessing 294 children and adolescents with psychological distress at SVMC’s emergency department. In addition, UCS and SVMC recognized that trips to the ED can be traumatic for children in behavioral or psychological distress, and also that transporting them to the ED created a bottleneck on community resources.
Lorna Mattern, executive director of UCS, and Jill Maynard, RN and director of Emergency Nursing at SVMC, had discussed the need for a program like PUCK. When OneCare’s Innovation Grant program was announced, the two organizations worked together to create the model and apply for funding. Mattern said: “It was really exciting for us that we received the grant … all this just wouldn’t have happened without the grant.”
PUCK’s primary goals are to be an alternative to the emergency department for elementary-aged children in psychological distress, to reduce the level of adverse experiences that children face by limiting law enforcement encounters and ED visits, to help free up resources (e.g., the time of the police, available beds in the emergency department,) to help children re-enter and to stay in school, and to create effective treatment plans….READ ENTIRE ARTICLE AND VIEW PHOTO GALLERY