Discussing mental health care in emergency departments
If signed into law, the Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act will create a grant program through which emergency departments can apply for funding to improve their ability to treat patients with behavioral health issues.
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - If signed into law, the Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act will create a grant program through which emergency departments can apply for funding to improve their ability to treat patients with behavioral health issues.
“What this competitive grant program would allow is for states and or specific health systems and emergency departments to identify their own needs,” Dr. Chris Goode, WVU Medicine’s Chairman of Emergency Medicine, told WTAP.
Goode said that taking an open-ended approach like that is essential, because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the needs of emergency departments.
“We’re gonna have to look at each individual hospital, and these are the really big things: do you need more inpatient beds? Yes, but not general inpatient beds. There’s some adolescent issues that often cause challenges in West Virginia. Do you need more outpatient services. Right?”
Here’s how Goode said emergency departments respond to some patients struggling with acute mental health issues.
“We work in our emergency departments and in our workflows to have a quiet place. We often have separate, dedicated rooms for these patients. And then we also have some workflows that we use, some de-escalation techniques.”
Dr. Goode said one area where West Virginia’s emergency departments may be able to benefit from the Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act is by getting funding to expand transportation options for patients.
“If you get a patient that is in Braxton County, for example, and needs to get to Morgantown or needs to come to Parkersburg for inpatient treatment, often with our stretched resources in EMS, and also our law enforcement colleagues, we have difficulty getting the patients to where they need to be.”
Goode said that for emergency rooms, being ready to respond to patients experiencing mental health issues is just as important as being prepared to treat physical ailments.
“We’re there to, you know, take care of the person who falls out of a tree. But we’re also there to take care of the person that just has that acute event and at two o’clock in the morning doesn’t know who else to call.”
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