Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center has expanded its alternative to emergency room services, the Living Room, from three to five evenings per week.

Skokie-based Turning Point, which also serves Evanston and about 40 other metro-area communities, has added a registered nurse to its staff and plans to train and hire more peer counselors to accommodate the expansion.

The expansion, made possible in part through a federal grant, means the service will now operate from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and on Sundays.

Turning Point CEO Ann Fisher Raney said says the program provides “solid support for individuals experiencing a psychiatric crisis.”

Raney says the program offers support to persons experiencing psychiatric emergencies in a comfortable, non-clinical space.

She says the program, which launched in September 2011, offers a cost-effective alternative to hospital emergency room visits, with 93 percent of clients of visited the program in the first year avoiding a trip to the emergency room.

For 228 visits that first year, Raney says, it saved nearly $500,000 in state health care costs.

With the program’s expansion,Lauren Parsek has joined Turning Point as the Living Room’s new registered nurse. Lauren was part of a research team from DePaul University School of Nursing that recently completed a study of The Living Room.

The Living Room is located at 8324 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie.

TURNING POINT BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE CENTER, established in 1969, is an outpatient mental health center that exists to provide comprehensive mental health services to all, regardless of financial resources or intensity of need. For more information about Turning Point visit www.tpoint.org

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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