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UPLIFT Lexington County launches with focus on mental health

By December 8, 2021December 13th, 2021No Comments

On November 30, over 30 Lexington-based organizations, including law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare and mental health service providers came together to launch a new initiative, UPLIFT Lexington County-Healing Mind, Body, and Spirit. This movement is focused on diverting people away from reliance on emergency services and the criminal justice system and into resources that promote healing and healthy outcomes.

UPLIFT Lexington County is supported and funded through a three-year grant from Duke Endowment for $980,000 to increase access to mental healthcare in Lexington County. Through UPLIFT we will establish a comprehensive and coordinated system of care delivery. The grant includes several Midlands organizations:

  •       Lexington Medical Center Foundation
  •       Serve & Connect
  •       Lexington County Community Mental Health Center
  •       Lexington County EMS
  •       Lexington County Sheriff’s Office
  •       Lexington Medical Center

At the Partnership Network meeting, individuals from the convening partnership team had a chance to speak at the event. They spoke about how the Lexington County partnership network will improve behavioral health through collaboration and empowerment. Remarks were made by:

  •       UPLIFT Lexington County Project Manager Macey Silano
  •       Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon
  •       Lexington County Mental Health Center Executive Director Sarah Main
  •       Lexington County EMS Assistant Chief Tanee Thomas-Tedford
  •       Lexington Medical Center Director of Medical Social Services Katherine Watts
  •       Serve & Connect Founder & CEO Dr. Kassy Alia Ray

The event lasted two hours where an array of partners gathered to collaborate and work together on matters that are relevant around Lexington County.

Elizabeth Wingard the Senior Major Gift Officer at The Lexington Medical Foundation said, “the launch of the Uplift Partner Network not only provided a great introduction to what the movement is all about, we truly came together that day to begin real work in connecting and developing deeper relationships among organizations and individuals, public and private, working together to serve those with mental illness throughout the Midlands.” 

Organizations showed their dedication to serving their community by participating with open minds and hearts. Individualized perspectives were seen, and issues that had not been considered were brought to the table on how to provide care to lived experience of mental illness and our frontline workers. Elizabeth continued to say “ the shared passion came through so strongly as participants offered guidance, insight, and valuable information to help build a stronger framework of care for our community and support for those on the frontlines of this care. And while this work of the Partner Network is just beginning, I was greatly encouraged by the experience that we are on to a good thing!”

Open dialogue between frontline workers and service providers is a critical tool for ensuring access to resources to individuals with lived experiences of mental illness. Amy Lanier, the Executive Director at The Lexington Medical Foundation stated, “there was such great energy in the room – with so many joining us from our community that has the heart to serve every day. We are already learning how we can find avenues to work together to better serve those in need, and together, strengthen resources and ultimately result in healing for those suffering in our community.”

This grant will fund for three years the hire and equipping of two dedicated Community Paramedics focused on behavioral health and an additional Mental Health Counselor who will be working directly with individuals and their families living with mental health concerns in our community. They will go out to the individual, develop a tailored care plan and help them navigate the services available in our community for treatment and care. Lexington County EMS Assistant Chief Tanee Thomas-Tedford who will be helping to oversee this initiative states, “the fact that so many community members were present to walk alongside us in this journey filled my heart with hope.”

This proactive care will help individuals toward a more independent and healthier life. It will also alleviate reliance on EMS resources for unnecessary transports and emergency department care which will help with wait times for the broader community, and ensure the participating patients have the best paths to appropriate care. 

Macey, the Mental Health Program Manager of Uplift mentions the importance of not only helping individuals with lived experience of mental illness but the importance of training for our first responders within this project.

“We will be working to deliver training to first responders throughout the county including rural areas to help them with a systematic approach to responding to individuals experiencing mental health crises.”

We sincerely appreciate the media sharing news about this important work. They play a critical role in helping us create partnerships and creating change. 

Links to coverage below:

WLTX – https://www.wltx.com/article/news/local/uplift-lexington-county-mental-health-resources/101-ff3f55de-4a30-4136-bb2d-5ea3a58c2c1a

Lexington Chronicle – https://www.lexingtonchronicle.com/uplift-lexington-county

ABC Columbia – https://www.abccolumbia.com/2021/12/01/lexington-organizations-team-up-to-address-mental-health/

Post and Courier – https://www.postandcourier.com/columbia/news/lexington-county-program-helping-mentally-ill-people-avoid-jail-er-visits/article_6c3c4da0-5201-11ec-b2d5-bb468f139d39.html

Thank you to the following partners who made this event possible.

  •       Lexington Medical Center Foundation
  •       Serve & Connect
  •       Lexington County Community Mental Health Center
  •       Lexington County EMS
  •       Lexington County Sheriff’s Office
  •       Lexington Medical Center 

List of agencies and organizations that signed up to be a partner on the Partnership Network:

  •   MIRCI (Mental Illness Recovery Center Inc.)
  •   Lexington County DSS
  •   Transitions Homeless Center
  •   Lexington County EMS
  •   Lexington Police Department
  •   SCDMH Office of Suicide Prevention
  •   Cayce Police Department
  •   Marathon Health
  •   Pathways to Healing
  •   Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center
  •   Pelion Police Department
  •   Choices Counseling Center
  •   United Way of the Midlands
  •   West Columbia Police Department
  •   Homeless No More
  •   LRADAC
  •   Counseling Plus
  •   Katana Safety