Governor McCrory Announces Support for Program That Transports Mental Health Patients in Crisis to Mental Health Centers
Published: Tuesday, December 29th, 2015 @ 1:16 pm
By: Stan Deatherage ( More Entries )
Login to Send a Private Message to Stan Deatherage
Raleigh, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory announced funding is now available for the transport of patients suffering a mental health crisis to mental health centers instead of emergency departments.
"This is a major step forward on getting the right care sooner to patients suffering a mental health crisis," Governor McCrory said. "Additionally, this will allow hospital emergency room personnel to concentrate on patients in need of immediate medical attention."
Funding from this year's state budget combined with federal grants won by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will support reimbursement of the on-site behavioral health assessment and diversion services.
The program will allow 12 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies across North Carolina to bill for the transport of patients in mental health crisis to mental health centers. As of December 15, EMS departments can bill retroactively to the beginning of the fiscal year until funds run out.
This billing option is part of the second year of an EMS pilot program, known as the Community Paramedicine Behavioral Health Crisis Response model. The pilot is funded and administered through DHHS' Crisis Solutions Initiative. The purpose of the program is to assist those in mental health crises more effectively.
Last year, regional mental health authorities and community providers developed advanced training for EMS departments and their paramedics that specialize in treating mental illness and substance use to divert individuals in mental health crises from hospital emergency rooms to behavioral health crisis centers.
Benefits of this model include quicker access to specialized behavioral health services and allowing emergency departments to focus on assisting patients requiring an acute level of medical attention.
"For a person in a mental health crisis, timely attention from properly trained paramedics and dispatchers is critical," DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer said. "This training, coupled with the change in entities' ability to reimburse paramedics, will help place patients in the most appropriate care setting in a timelier manner."
The Crisis Solutions Initiative focuses on identifying and implementing the best known strategies for crisis care while reducing avoidable visits to emergency departments and involvement with the criminal justice system for individuals in behavioral health crises.
For more information on the Crisis Solutions Initiative, visit http://crisissolutionsnc.org/.
Contact: Crystal Feldman