Co-responders: By the numbers

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PITTSFIELD — The partnership between Pittsfield Police and the Brien Center has helped 1,636 people to date, Richard Collins said. He estimates that represents about $3 million in diverted hospital bills for those would-be emergency department visits, which, he said, usually are paid for under state-provided health insurance.

That's assuming that each emergency department visit costs about $2,500, and he said that's a conservative estimate.

The estimated $3 million in savings assumes every person for whom a Section 12 order was not issued would otherwise have gone to a hospital if the program were not in place. Ambulance transport costs were not included.

Collins said the program reduces strain on tight police rosters and on Berkshire Medical Center's emergency mental health unit, which is always busy.

The program ensures that the system works the way it should, he said, meaning people sent to a hospital are the ones who need it most.

"But I'm only one person working 50 hours a week," he said. "I know there are a lot of mental health calls that don't get noticed."

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