In response to my classmate's blog, "Mental Health Patients Being Sent to Austin Emergency Rooms," I would like to agree, and add a few of my own thoughts on the subject.
First off, sending mental health patients to emergency rooms is not a reasonable solution to the overcrowding of Austin State Hospital and other mental health facilities. Emergency rooms are all ready overcrowded and busy with patients who are seriously hurt, and even patients who are just sick but don't have insurance and can't go to a normal doctor. Sending more people to an "emergency" room, will not solve the problem. We are over using the ER as it is, making too many seriously injured patients wait for ridiculously long amounts of time.
Also, emergency rooms are not equipped with the proper tools to take care of Mental Health patients. They will not receive the kind of care that they need. Also, dangerous patients could be potentially harmful to doctors, staff, and other patients. That would be an added worry for employees and patients at the hospitals. Most of these patients need special care, whether it be medications or people who have extensive knowledge and experience with mental health patients.
I agree with my classmate when they say that another bigger hospital is needed in central Texas. I'm not sure why that was not mentioned in the article, besides the fact that it will cost millions of dollars. The building itself would probably be the least expensive factor. The beds, medical equipment, and staff would cost the state millions of dollars. But, I believe that is the true solution in the end, and they are just spending more money on temporary fixes, instead of focusing on the true solution. My mother worked at ASH for several years, and from speaking with her, stuffing in more patients and overcrowding the hospital creates more problems then it solves. Many patients must have their own rooms and need more specialized attention. A bigger hospital would allow for these cases to be handled properly. When cases are able to be better handled, I believe that the patients who are able to be released and live on their own again will be able to recover in a much shorter time. That would also help on cutting down costs.
I also agree with the article that reaching out to these patients in their own homes and outside of hospitals is a great idea. But that is not realistic for many patients. If they are violent, or have no one who can or is willing to take care of them, they must be placed in a facility that they can have proper care.
The sad fact is that there are several more mental health patients than there is room at ASH and other state hospitals. The state needs to step up and build a proper facility that can treat these patients correctly, and create programs that reach out to patients living at home. Pushing the problem off on someone else who is way too busy to deal with what they all ready have is definitely not an answer.