RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Rapid City hospital plans to expand its emergency room over the next two years with the goal of providing better care for people suffering a mental health crisis in western South Dakota.

Rapid City Region CEO Paulette Davidson said Wednesday that the expansion will include eight “safe rooms” where people can be cared for while their mental crisis is de-escalated, the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/2rhQXQQ ) reported.

The announcement comes after the second meeting of the West River Behavioral Health Alliance, a group formed in March to address the lack of mental health services in the Black Hills area. The alliance was founded by Davidson, Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom.

Jegeris said those working to improve mental health care are lacking resources.

“We’re kind of caught up in a cycle where we’re waiting until there’s a crisis or emergency, and in the end we’re really being very inefficient in the way that we as an overall state are addressing mental health and even substance abuse issues,” he said.

The group also discussed the addition of a mobile crisis-care unit. The vehicle would be staffed by specialists who help de-escalate people in crisis and administer medication, Davidson said. The unit would be similar to a mobile crisis response team in Sioux Falls.

“What we need to do is learn from others that have this service in place,” Davidson said.

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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