For Immediate Release November 16, 2020


Karen Warmkessel:

Health Services Cost Review Commission Awards $45 Million Over Five Years for Innovative Program to Expand Community-Based Services

BALTIMORE, MD – The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Downtown and Midtown Campuses and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center (UM SJMC) are partnering with behavioral health leaders and other Baltimore area hospitals to strengthen and expand crisis response infrastructure and services in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County and Howard County.

The Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System (GBRICS) Partnership will invest $45 million over five years in the initiative which is funded through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) Regional Partnership Catalyst Grant Program. The award was announced today at a press conference.

"Through the enhanced coordination of care and communication provided by GBRICS, UMMC, already a major provider of mental health and addiction services in the state, will be able to take crisis response and same-day access to care to a new level," Jill RachBeisel, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, said. "We will be able to better meet the urgent needs of our community residents in a trauma-informed, respectful manner and assist in removing long waits for assessment and delays in access to care."

Dr. RachBeisel notes that this new initiative will enable UMMC to expand its Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) programs for adults and children, statewide telemental health program and extensive addictions care program.

"We are privileged to be part of what will certainly be one of the most important steps forward for behavioral health treatment in our state in the past 50 years," said Charles W. Callahan, DO, Vice President of Population Health at UMMC.

The goal of the new partnership is to expand community-based services that will better meet the needs of a person or family in crisis, who often are forced to call 911, visit an emergency room or interact with police. It is a collaboration of 17 hospitals, four local behavioral health authorities and behavioral health experts and leaders across these jurisdictions. UMMC, with its Downtown and Midtown Campuses in Baltimore City, and UM SJMC, which is located in Towson, are part of the 13-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS).

"When fully implemented, this integrated regional system will eliminate barriers for those experiencing behavioral health crisis by providing a single 24/7 phone number for access. Mobile teams of mental health specialists will meet individuals where they are – at home, in the community – and connect them with the care and services that they need," Dr. Callahan said, adding, "It will begin to take law enforcement largely out of the business of responding to behavioral health issues in our community."

"We understand that the need for human connection and the support of community is now more vital than ever, particularly for individuals coping with behavioral health or substance abuse issues. A collaborative of readily accessible services and dedicated providers working together, 24/7, on their behalf ensures that they will always have a place to go for rapid, effective, specialized and compassionate treatment when they experience a crisis. It is our intent that GBRICS serves as a valuable lifeline for our community," said Thomas B. Smyth, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of UM SJMC.

People living in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County and Howard County account for approximately 1.9 million residents and more than 58,000 emergency department visits every year for mental illness and/or substance use disorder.

The GBRICS Partnership builds upon the strengths of the current behavioral health crisis system and aligns with the Crisis Now model, a nationally recognized framework for comprehensive behavioral health crisis care. Over the course of the five years, GBRICS will:

  • Create a 24/7 regional hotline that is supported with technology for real-time capacity and care coordination across the system of care.
  • Promote the regional hotline as an alternative to calling 911 or using EDs for crisis care.
  • Ensure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to mobile crisis teams (MCT), a team of mental health professionals that provide crisis response services to people in their home or other community-based settings.
  • Support outpatient providers to offer walk-in/virtual behavioral health services to address immediate needs.
  • Establish a GBRICS Council to support accountability and sustainability of the initiative.

GBRICS will create one hotline number for the four-jurisdiction region. Hotline operators will be able to provide assessments, de-escalation, and help with scheduling appointments in real-time across the system of care. The regional hotline will also have the ability to deploy the mobile crisis teams to respond to people experiencing crisis and help them safely stabilize and get connected to ongoing care.

The initiative will start Jan. 1, 2021, with a heavy focus on planning and infrastructure development for the first two years and implementation beginning in the third year. The GBRICS Council will be established in the first year to support overall implementation and sustainability of the project.

"We are proud to be a part of this exciting and innovative new collaboration that will fundamentally change the way individuals in Central Maryland who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis receive care. The GBRICS Partnership will eliminate barriers and provide services to meet individuals where they are, at the time they are in need of help," said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Maryland Medical System.

About the University of Maryland Medical Center

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospital campuses in Baltimore: the 800-bed flagship institution of the 14-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) — and the 200-bed UMMC Midtown Campus, both academic medical centers training physicians and health professionals and pursuing research and innovation to improve health. UMMC's downtown campus is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurosciences, advanced cardiovascular care, women's and children's health, and has one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the country. All physicians on staff at the downtown campus are clinical faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The UMMC Midtown Campus medical staff is predominately faculty physicians specializing in diabetes, chronic diseases, behavioral health, long term acute care and an array of outpatient primary care and specially services. UMMC Midtown has been a teaching hospital for 140 years and is located one mile away from the downtown campus. For more information, visit

About UM St. Joseph Medical Center

UM St. Joseph Medical Center (UM SJMC), founded in 1864 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, is a 218-bed Catholic, not-for-profit regional medical center in Towson, Maryland. A member of the 13-hospital University of Maryland Medical System, UM SJMC is located in suburban Baltimore County, and offers a wide range of superb clinical programs and centers of excellence, including the Cancer, Heart and Orthopaedic Institutes, Women and Children's services and Emergency Medicine. Our mission: To provide loving service and compassionate, leading-edge care to all. For more information, visit

About the University of Maryland Medical System

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is a university-based regional health care system focused on serving the health care needs of Maryland, bringing innovation, discovery and research to the care we provide and educating the state's future physician and health care professionals through our partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the UM Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Dentistry in Baltimore. As one of the largest private employers in the State, the health system's 28,000 employees and 4,000 affiliated physicians provide primary and specialty care in more than 150 locations and at 13 hospitals. UMMS' flagship academic campus, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is partnered with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is recognized regionally and nationally for excellence and innovation in specialized care. Our acute care and specialty rehabilitation hospitals serve urban, suburban and rural communities and are located in 13 counties across the State. For more information, visit