Effects of Psychiatric Emergency Department Closure on Riverside County Hospitals Examined
Closing Riverside County's Indio-based psychiatric emergency department last year has contributed to an increase in the number of patients with psychiatric conditions at the three other EDs in the area, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. Although the county has deployed a mobile psychiatric evaluation team to aid EDs and make house calls, some say the program "is taxing an overburdened system and hindering patient care," according to the Press-Enterprise.
Frank Curry, an ED doctor at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, said, "Taking these patients and placing them in emergency rooms ... does have a negative impact on our ability to take care of people." Curry added that nurse-to-patient ratios are adversely affected by the situation.
In addition, because the mobile team operates from 8 a.m. to midnight, psychiatric patients who arrive at EDs late at night often have to wait until the next morning for psychiatric care, Curry said.
David Lundquist, desert regional manager for Riverside County Department of Mental Health, said mobile team services could eventually be extended for overnight care. He added, "We have been working closely with all three hospitals to create procedures and response times for the teams."
Lundquist said the psychiatric ED in Indio had become financially unsustainable because it failed to reach minimum patient quotas.
Officials said mobile teams, which respond to about three calls daily from local EDs, are "a pilot for what could become a larger effort to integrate mental-health teams with law enforcement services countywide," the Press-Enterprise reports (Lewit/Trone, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/26).