Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"The World"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
KNPR's State of Nevada About SON Archives Participate Specials
TODAY
Why Don't We Know Who's Behind the Kelly Cheating Scandal?
Council Votes For Horse-Drawn Carriages
Utah Keeps 'Utes' As Mascot
The Progressive Bluegrass Sounds Of The Infamous Stringdusters
The Good Foods Of Lent
RECENT
Boycott Las Vegas Say Social Conservatives
How Safe Is Your Food?
Robert Coover And The Return Of The Brunists
Castro And Patrick Spar Over Immigration
Behind The Bundy Ranch Standoff
Can 'Serious' Reading Happen Online?
Lynne Jasames On Why 'It's Okay To Cry'
BASE Jumping: The Allure And The Danger
Tax Advice For The Alternative Economy
The Secret History Of Las Vegas
Anti-Government Protesters Win Round Against BLM
Bryan Ferry (Of Roxy Music) Brings His Orchestra To Vegas
Is Tipping Obsolete?
Deal Reached Between North Las Vegas And Labor Unions
Being Oscar
The Life Cycle Of A Mall
Fixing Nevada's Mental Health System
Bundy Family Says Local Officials Need to Step In To Stop BLM Dispute
The Future Of Space Tourism

Following Scandal, Psychiatric Patients Crowd Local Emergency Rooms
Following Scandal, Psychiatric Patients Crowd Local Emergency Rooms

Listen
AIR DATE: May 6, 2013

BY AMY KINGSLEY --  The first stop for psychiatric patients in crisis is usually the closest emergency room. And upheaval at Rawson-Neal psychiatric hospital in the wake of the busing scandal has made that first stop longer, challenging hospitals’ ability to treat patients with medical needs, says Dr. Dale Carrison.

Carrison, Chief of Staff at University Medical Center, declared an internal disaster last week after its emergency center became overwhelmed with psychiatric patients. The hospital stopped accepting ambulances for 12 hours.

Almost half the beds in the adult emergency department were taken by psychiatric patients who were waiting to be transferred to Rawson-Neal. Carrison said recent changes in policy have slowed the intake process, and left emergency departments holding the bag.

“With the mentally ill patients … those people stay two, three days, sometimes five or six days in the emergency department or in the hospital,” Carrison said. “So an emergency department that’s not operating really efficiently can turn a bed over every six hours. An emergency department that’s operating efficiently can turn a bed over every four hours. So you can see for every patient that’s there for 24 hours, even if you’re slow, then you’ve not been able to see four other patients medically.”

Psychiatric patients have been crowding emergency departments for years. In 2004, the county manager declared an emergency, and things improved when the state expanded mental health facilities. But they have since cut the mental health budget by millions of dollars, and the number of patients stuck in emergency departments has skyrocketed.

The problem can’t be solved without a serious investment in resources for the mentally ill, Carrison said.

“Let’s say Rawson-Neal takes 35 patients a day, and there’s 105 holding,” Carrison said. “So, if they take 35 every day – what’s left? They still have 70 patients left. So it’s a situation where you can’t catch up. It’s like a funnel, and the large end of the funnel is the emergency departments and the small end of the funnel is the mental health facilities.”

The problem is compounded by the lack of follow-up care, Carrison said.

“It’s a revolving door,” Carrison said. “Many of our patients come and go, come and go, come and go.”

And right now, more patients are coming than going. The state has placed a psychologist at UMC to alleviate the problem. Carrison said it will take some time to see if that works.

GUEST

Dr. Dale Carrison, Chief of Staff, University Medical Center

    comments powered by Disqus
    © 2013 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
    Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.