Pilot project seeks to reduce psychiatric emergency wait times
Inland Empire (I.E.) PsychPartners is an innovative pilot project, developed in collaboration with public and private agencies, designed to transform the delivery of emergency services for individuals in psychiatric crisis. Prior to the implementation of the project, the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) invites community members to learn more about the project by reviewing the draft Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Innovation Plan and providing feedback on it through the submission of a comment form, posted from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30 on www.sbcounty.gov/dbh.
Data from a 2015 report on U.S. rural emergency departments found that in large remote, rural areas, local emergency departments commonly serve as the first-stop location for medical services. In Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, where such areas are prevalent, this finding, coupled with a growing population and a nationwide psychiatrist shortage created lengthier emergency departments wait times for individuals experiencing a psychiatric emergency; on average, double the wait time of an individual experiencing a physical health emergency.
The I.E. PsychPartners Innovation project was developed to seek solutions to these complex issues through collaboration between DBH, Riverside County University Health Systems – Behavioral Health, and the Hospital Association of Southern California. Solutions outlined in the proposed project include using a telehealth treatment team comprised of a psychiatrist and specialized behavioral health nurse, improvements to the psychiatric workflow for emergency department doctors and staff, and training opportunities to increase awareness on regional behavioral health services and to reduce the stigma associated with needing and seeking psychiatric care.
“Through MHSA funded Innovation Projects like I.E. PsychPartners, DBH is able to develop and test new approaches to meet the needs of our diverse and growing population, especially underserved and inappropriately served populations,” said DBH Director Veronica Kelley. “Collaboration and continued focus on improving services allows for increased efficiencies and greater health outcomes for all.”