Four ways hospitals are improving behavioral health care
June 26, 2015
Most hospital emergency departments (EDs) are not designed to provide optimum care to patients in a behavioral health crisis. Nevertheless, more and more such patients are arriving, and some hospitals and health care systems have launched innovative efforts to meet the challenge. New York’s Montefiore Health System is placing both a social worker and a psychiatrist in each of its primary care clinics. These specialists work closely with primary care physicians and are available for immediate referrals when patients need mental health care, reducing the likelihood that they will come to a crisis point and need to visit an emergency department. In New Jersey, Atlantic Health System has set aside rooms in its EDs where behavioral health patients are shielded from the overstimulation of the common area, and staff work on starting an active treatment plan with patients who are forced to wait for an inpatient bed. Several St. Louis hospitals and community mental health clinics have jointly created a robust system of referrals and patient engagement that they credit with reducing ED visits by 47 percent.
Spark Extra! Caring for Adult Patients with Suicide Risk: A Consensus Guide for Emergency Departments is a new SPRC resource to promote a continuum of care, safety, and well-being for ED patients.