Frequently Asked Questions: Psychiatric Urgent Care
Q: What is the primary goal of Psychiatric Urgent Care?
A: Our goal is to provide people experiencing a mental health crisis with a recommendation for mental health treatment, based on an evaluation by a licensed behavioral healthcare provider. These treatment options could include:
- Inpatient care
- Partial hospitalization/day hospital
- Outpatient care
- And/or referral for further medical evaluation.
The Psychiatric Urgent Care team will also assist in connecting patients to the recommended level of care.
Q: Should you call ahead?
A: There is no need to call ahead. This is a walk-in psychiatric clinic, and patients will be seen in order of when they arrive.
Our goal is to provide immediate care but wait times can vary. If you are walking in later in the day, you may have to wait until the following business day to receive care.
Q: What can I expect when I visit the Psychiatric Urgent Care?
- If you come in for care, you will arrive at the hospital entrance and be directed to the Psychiatric Urgent Care clinic.
- Our Public Safety Officer will review prohibited items with you and ask that you secure any you may have brought in.
- Both the individual seeking care and any accompanying loved ones will then pause for a brief metal detection wanding.
- Once inside, you will register as a patient; for this, you will need a form of ID and an insurance card.
- You’ll be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire about why you have come in for care, any health issues you’ve been diagnosed with previously, and your contact information.
- You will then sit in the waiting room until a clinician takes you into a private room for an evaluation.
- You will be evaluated by a licensed clinician.
- When your evaluation is complete, you will be given immediate recommendations from the clinician. They will advise you regarding next steps for care. This may include either placing a referral to a program like a day hospital or an outpatient center, arranging admission to an inpatient unit, or recommending other services. Psychiatric Urgent Care staff will help connect you to whatever that next step is for you.
Q: How long is an evaluation at Psychiatric Urgent Care?
A: There is no standard length for an evaluation; your evaluation is unique to your circumstances. It is safe to expect at least 30 minutes for an evaluation.
Q: Who is appropriate for a visit at Psychiatric Urgent Care?
A: To receive services from Psychiatric Urgent Care, patients must:
- Be 5+ years of age
- Be willing to participate in an evaluation voluntary
- Not be in acute medical crisis
- Not be intoxicated or withdrawing from substances
- Not be physically aggressive, agitated, or dangerous
Psychiatric Urgent Care cannot do the following services:
- Complete formal medical clearance or lab work
- Complete court mandated evaluations or other forensic requests
- Clear patients to return to work or school
- Evaluate patients solely for housing or resource issues
Q: How does Psychiatric Urgent Care provide a different experience than an ER?
A: The Psychiatric Urgent Care clinicians recommend services for people with any level of need—not only those experiencing a crisis. For example, we can help find care for someone actively suicidal or someone merely seeking outpatient therapy.
Psychiatric Urgent Care is designed to help people experiencing a mental health crisis avoid the long waits often experienced at a traditional ER. However, unlike a typical ER, there are no beds at Psychiatric Urgent Care. Patients will be referred to the next level of care and discharged.
Q: What should I not expect?
A: Psychiatric Urgent Care only provides psychiatric evaluations and linkages to additional care. We cannot prescribe or fill prescriptions for medications. No therapy will be provided during the visit. If therapy is determined to be a necessary next step for a patient, we will connect them to outpatient services.
Q: What should I bring with me?
- Medication list (both psychiatric and medical)
- Insurance card
- Guardianship, custody, or kinship care documents for patients who require consent for evaluation
Q: Where should I park?
A: Each Sheppard Pratt hospital campus has a well-marked visitor lot where you are welcome to park for free.
Q: Where is the Psychiatric Urgent Care?
A: There is a Psychiatric Urgent Care located on both the Towson hospital campus and the Baltimore/Washington hospital campus.
Q: When is Psychiatric Urgent Care open?
A: Towson Campus
- Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Baltimore Washington Campus
- Daily: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Q: Do I need a referral to come to Psychiatric Urgent Care?
A: There is no need for referral at the Psychiatric Urgent Care. Anyone is welcome to walk in for evaluation.
Q: Are all the referrals to care within Sheppard Pratt?
A: If the recommended next step of care is either inpatient care or partial hospitalization, the referral provided will be within the Sheppard Pratt continuum of care if possible. If an appropriate inpatient bed is not available within Sheppard Pratt, a patient will be referred to an ER where they can remain safely until an appropriate open bed is found. If the next recommended step of care is outpatient services, we will attempt to keep care within Sheppard Pratt’s continuum, but depending on the patient’s insurance and location, care may be set up with other organizations.
Q: Under what circumstances would someone visit Psychiatric Urgent Care and be referred to inpatient treatment?
A: Recommendations are individualized and vary widely from case to case because each patient’s situation is unique. Our providers determine a level of care recommendation based on a wide range of factors including, but not limited to:
- The patient’s current condition and duration of symptoms
- The impact of any co-occurring conditions or medical symptoms
- The availability of psychiatric treatment options