Krysta Parker

Oct. 20, 2022
A photo of Krysta Parker
Krysta Parker

Getting creative in crisis intervention

Krysta Parker, behavioral health clinician at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, works in the Behavioral Health Connect (BHCON) co-responder program. The BHCON program is a partnership between UCHealth and local government agencies, including El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Fountain Police Department.

As part of a co-responder unit, Parker’s office is in the passenger seat of a police car. She responds with law enforcement to mental health-related 911 calls and conducts mental health evaluation and crisis responses.

According to Parker, their crisis response does not always include a trip to the hospital or crisis walk-in center. It often involves getting creative out in the community and asking the question:
“What can we do to get someone out of crisis in that moment?”

“For some folks who might be homeless or struggling for resources, sometimes that’s a ride somewhere, sometimes it’s a trip to a gas station, sometimes it’s a water bottle,” Parker said. “It’s about getting creative in terms of what we can provide someone to help them with their problems right then so that we can dissipate those 911 calls.”

Some clients call 911 when they are lonely and looking for friendship. The BHCON program is able to dissipate those 911 calls while providing companionship to clients in a more appropriate manner.

Parker has built a relationship with one client in particular, who does not have family close by and was looking for companionship.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, Parker was on shift with her partner, Sgt. Ken Owens of the Fountain Police Department. During a routine check-in with a client, Parker and Sgt. Owens noticed that the client was visibly shaky. They found out that the client was unable to drive to the grocery store and had not eaten for 24 hours. Parker and Sgt. Owens learned that the client’s favorite food was Panda Express. They picked up the client’s favorite meal, orange chicken and chow mein, and delivered it to the client for dinner.

“It’s such a positive collaboration,” Parker said of the BHCON program. “Usually, our goal is to try to get someone help as quickly as we can.”

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About the author

Christine Freer joined UCHealth as a communications specialist in 2022. Prior to joining UCHealth, Freer served as the lead public information officer at the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. She spent the last 11 years working in public health, program management, and health care marketing and communications. Freer earned a Bachelor of Arts in public health promotion from Purdue University and a Master of Public Health in social marketing from the University of South Florida. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband, Jim, and their German shepherd, Lincoln.