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Social worker embedded in Shaker Heights Police, Fire Departments for behavioral health calls

Social worker embedded with Shaker Heights police and fire
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jan 18, 2022

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Shaker Heights Police and Fire Departments have teamed up with The MetroHealth System for a pilot program aimed at addressing the growing number of behavioral health calls.

“We’ve seen an increasing amount of mental health type calls and we can attribute that to the pandemic for sure,” said Shaker Heights Police Chief Jeff DeMuth.

A social worker is embedded with the police and fire departments. She responds in real-time or follows up on calls that came in while she was off. It is a rewarding job for Annette Amistadi.

“I leave the day knowing I did something for somebody,” said Recovery Resources MetroHealth Social Worker Annette Amistadi.

The program puts Amistadi in the patrol car with police to respond to calls, after it is deemed safe, and in the ambulance with paramedics.

"Access the situation in conjunction with police and fire and then get the person the help they need, maybe that’s mental health counseling, maybe that’s substance abuse counseling, maybe it’s talking to a psychiatrist or medical treatment,” said Mike Tobin, VP Communications The MetroHealth System.

Shaker Heights Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney said they respond to roughly 500 behavioral health issue-related calls yearly. He said this program is a great start to helping with the increasing number of those types of calls.

“We’re the first one in Cuyahoga County. There’s a lot of fire departments that are really keeping an eye on what we’re doing,” said Sweeney.

The program will cost the city $100,000 for the first year of the pilot program.

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