Americans experiencing a mental health crisis can now call or text 988 to connect with a trained mental health professional on the new "Suicide & Crisis Lifeline," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Illinois, and New Jersey.
- District of Columbia: The new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline launched on Saturday, giving Americans experiencing a mental health crisis a memorable number to call or text to quickly connect with a trained mental health professional. If a local crisis center is unable to respond immediately, the call will be rerouted to one of 16 backup centers around the country. "If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help." To prepare for the lifeline's launch, the Biden administration allocated $432 million to increase the capacity of local and backup call centers and provide additional services, including a Spanish-language network. (Ortiz/Eder, New York Times, 7/15; Chatterjee, "Shots," NPR, 7/16; Keller/Atchity, The Hill, 7/15)
- Illinois: WellNow Urgent Care—a division of The Aspen Group (TAG)—on July 1 acquired Physicians Immediate Care (PIC). According to WellNow president John Radford, the companies' combined footprint now includes 183 centers across New York, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Radford noted that there are no plans to lay off the combined 3,850 employees following the merger. However, the company is planning to hire more employees to fill open roles amid the ongoing health care labor shortage. Notably, PIC will still be run by its chair and CEO Stan Blaylock—and it will not immediately adopt WellNow's branding. (Davis, Crain's Chicago Business/Modern Healthcare, 7/7)
- New Jersey: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) last week released "Raising the Bar," a new health equity framework for health care organizations. For the framework, a coalition led by the National Alliance to impact the Social Determinants of Health created five key principles based on ideas, evidence, and input from industry leaders. The stewardship council included Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana; Marc Harrison, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare; and Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. The five principles include committing to the mission of improving health equity, systematically pursuing health equity and racial justice, centering community by authentically partnering with it, sharing power by lifting up the voices of others and sharing resources, and earning and sustaining trust. (Gonzalez, Becker's Hospital Review, 7/13)