E.R. Costs for Mentally Ill Soar, and Hospitals Seek Better Way
NY Times article, published Dec. 25, 2013
In the past, paramedics would have taken the man to the closest hospital emergency room — most likely the nearby WakeMed Health and Hospitals, one of the largest centers in the region. But instead, under a pilot program, paramedics ushered him through the doors of Holly Hill Hospital, a commercial psychiatric facility...
For decades, North Carolina resisted the broad mental health reforms. But in 2000, state lawmakers moved to overhaul the state’s mental health system, closing state facilities and pushing counseling and outpatient programs to local communities.
When the economy plummeted in 2008, North Carolina, like other states, reduced funding to community programs. In all, the state spends 20 percent less on community mental health services than it did a decade ago.
Today, North Carolina has only eight beds in state psychiatric hospitals per 100,000 people, the lowest ratio in the country. (North Carolina, like other states, has added beds in local community facilities but, even then, its total beds are down a quarter since 2001.) (emphasis added)
Uninsured patients rarely receive individual therapy, only group sessions. And it can take up to three months to see a psychiatrist.
This is a long article and focused on national issue as seen through what is happening at WakeMed and in Wake County, NC. 341 Comments as of today.