Using the experience from RECOVER-E in establishing mobile teams after the Petrinja earthquake in Croatia

In December 2020, an earthquake of magnitude 6.4 Mw hit near the town of Petrinja in Croatian Sisak-Moslavina County causing severe material and infrastructural damage with seven death casualties and many people injured. Psychiatric care in the county was provided by Neuropsychiatric Hospital “Dr. Ivan Barbot” in Popovača and General Hospital “Dr. Ivo Pedišić” in Sisak, however both institutions were severely damaged by the earthquake. Therefore, a severe disruption of accessibility and availably of psychiatric care in the County occurred. According to the experience gained through the RECOVER-E project, prof. Martina Rojnić Kuzman and Sara Medved initiated the establishment of mobile psychiatric teams in the County. With the support from the Croatian National Psychiatric Association (HPD), two site visits took please alongside with interviews with frontline personnel, volunteers, and the civilians from the County. The impressions from the field were communicated with the Ministry of Health. Five days after the shock, Minister of Health appointed the principle of Neuropsychiatric Hospital “Dr. Ivan Barbot” as a coordinator of psychiatric care in the County and the HPD as a support. Mobile teams were initiated constituting of psychiatrist, resident of psychiatry, psychiatric nurse and psychologist. On some occasions, specialists in child and adolescent psychiatry joined the team. They were financially supported by Croatian Health Insurance Fund. Starting from the sixth day, three mobile teams were dispatched each day from Neuropsychatric Hospital to three main cities in the County: Sisak, Petrinja and Glina. They operated from 8am to 4pm, and were in direct contact with the local community through local media, volunteers, members of civil protection, health workers, and police. They provided psychosocial support, crisis resolution, and home treatment. Additionally, the teams were available by phone and were in constant contact with general practitioners from the County. Only in the first month, teams already provided over 500 interventions to support those affected by the earthquake. They operated daily until April 2021, when Croatian Institute of Public Health started a special programme of mobile teams provided by mental health professionals from outside of the County. The experience from RECOVER-E project was directly implemented in establishing mobile teams in crisis, which we found extremely important in providing psychiatric care in the County after the earthquake.