MONDAY NOVEMBER 23, 2009
I just testified at a Senate Health Committee hearing in support of three bills that will help our state’s mentally ill population. Believe it or not, in our great state we have patients – children and adults alike – waiting in our hospital emergency departments for placement into appropriate levels of behavioral care – sometimes up to five days.
The behavioral health patient population needs a wide range of programs to meet their needs. Hospital emergency rooms are not the best place for this fragile population. They are busy, intense places. The bills NJHA supports are not asking for additional resources. Instead we are asking the state to improve its coordinated efforts to help hospitals locate placements for behavioral health patients, streamline processes to move patients more quickly to an appropriate setting and give providers a snapshot of what behavioral health services are currently available across the state. These are fundamental measures that the state must take, or our fragile behavioral health population will continue to wait – and that isn’t right.