U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) reintroduced the Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act, legislation to improve the way patients receive care for mental illness in emergency departments. The bipartisan bill would establish a competitive grant program for emergency departments to adopt more collaborative and connected mental health care models and deploy new technology to better connect patients with appropriate resources in their communities.
“Millions of Americans are living with mental health issues and many turn to their local emergency department for care. Too often, the specialized care and care settings these patients need is not readily available, resulting in many hours – and sometimes days – waiting for the care they deserve,” Senator Capito said. “Our bill seeks to address these issues by allowing emergency departments to customize innovative solutions that meet the unique needs of their patients.”
“Too many of our emergency rooms are not equipped to deal with mental health care. When a patient is in crisis, they need help immediately – yet they often face long waits to receive care. Our bipartisan bill would help emergency departments connect patients more quickly with mental health resources and increase the numbers of beds in their ER. I will continue working to help ensure that Granite Staters and all Americans are able to access the care that they need, when they need it,” Senator Hassan said.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already growing demand for mental health care services due to rising rates of mental health conditions, substance abuse, and suicide. This continued increased demand, as well as a shortage of psychiatric beds, is causing patients to remain in emergency departments for hours, sometimes days, as appropriate mental health care is sought. As emergency departments across the country face this reality, some are implementing innovative solutions to ensure patients with mental illness receive the care they need and deserve.
The Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act would provide resources for emergency departments to adopt more collaborative and connected care models and deploy new technology to better connect patients with appropriate resources in their communities. The legislation recognizes that needs vary by patient, provider, and community and allows emergency departments to design the solutions that will best work for them.
Specifically, the legislation would:
• Authorize a competitive grant program for emergency departments to implement innovative approaches to securing prompt access to appropriate follow-on care for individuals experiencing acute mental health episodes and presenting for care in emergency departments. Such innovative approaches could include:
• Expediting transition to post-emergency care through expanded coordination with regional service providers, assessment, peer navigators, bed availability tracking and management, transfer protocol development, networking infrastructure development, and transportation services.
• Increasing the supply of inpatient psychiatric beds and alternative care settings, such as regional emergency psychiatric units.
• Expanding approaches to providing psychiatric care in the emergency department – including tele-psychiatric support and other remote psychiatric consultations, peak period crisis clinics, or creating dedicated psychiatric emergency service units.
Discussion about this post