News, Your Health Seth Stratton | 6 years ago

A Healthier Community, One Call at a Time

For some, Carolinas HealthCare System’s Behavioral Health Call Center serves as a resource to find care. For others, it can be a much-needed lifeline in a time of crisis.

Alischa Rodgers, a telemental health clinician in the call center since 2013, describes the call center as a centralized point of entry for 20 departments within behavioral health. It’s her job to connect patients to resources and services, provide emotional support to callers and assist people in the throes of crisis, such as thoughts of suicide. The call center’s licensed clinicians answered more than 14,500 calls during the month of July, breaking a call volume record for 2015. Out of those calls, more than 94 percent were answered within 18 seconds. “Although we mainly support the Charlotte region, it’s not uncommon for us to get calls from out of state and even out of the country,” Rodgers says. “No matter the origin of the call, all callers are treated with the respect, dignity and compassion they deserve.” "While it’s not unusual in today’s economy to find shortages in services or barriers to treatment, some mental health resources and substance abuse services are either difficult to find or non-existent," Rodgers says. “When those in need call us, they often feel a variety of emotions ranging from fear to frustration and, sometimes, they take those feelings out on us – the ones here to help,” Rodgers says. “We try to be cognizant of each patient’s experience, and we understand the frustrations that may exist, but we do this work because we believe in it. With each patient, each experience, we unselfishly give a piece of ourselves.”
Alischa Rodgers, telemental health clinician for Carolinas HealthCare System's Behavioral Health Call Center. Alischa Rodgers, a telemental health clinician for Carolinas HealthCare System's Behavioral Health Call Center, helps connect those in need of behavioral health services to available resources. 
Rodgers, like her teammates, takes pride in knowing she helps build a healthier community. The rewards of her job, she says, range from hearing relief in the voice of a panicked mother to being offered a heart-felt “thank you.” Marjorie Gettys contacted the call center for help locating a mental health assistance, after multiple unsuccessful attempts on her own. Gettys told Rodgers if she couldn’t connect with a provider “this time,” she was giving up on continuing behavioral health services. "Multiple barriers hindered Gettys’ treatment and negatively impacted her mental health and overall well-being," Rodgers says. By the end of their call, Gettys found the services she needed. Rodgers aims to provide a positive, productive experience like this for every patient, every time. “I do the work because I believe in it,” she says. “I understand the importance of people having access to services and the long-term effect it can have on their lives. No matter the length of the interaction I have with a caller, I know the time I spend and the quality of service I provide not only can affect that person today, but it potentially can affect them days, weeks, months and even years later.” Rodgers most wants people in need to know that clinicians at the call center care and they’re there to help and, sometimes, simply listen. “We are available 24 hours a day and you can call anonymously,” she says. “All calls are confidential and answered by a licensed therapist. Unfortunately, many people go without services because they don’t know where to access them, so I’d encourage people to call and let us help.”   The Behavioral Health Call Center is staffed with licensed clinicians and offer services coordination and crisis management. Call: 704-444-2400 or 800-418-2065.