Michigan pilot project can help reduce ER overcrowding and improve mental health treatment
ER overcrowding is a significant challenge facing healthcare providers in Michigan. In Bridge Magazine’s Health Watch series, Ted Roelofs looks at how a federally funded project — administered by CHRT on behalf of the Washtenaw Health Initiative — coordinates multiple health, mental health, and human service organizations to focus on people with substance abuse and mental health issues who are frequent emergency department patients. The project looks to match patients with the right medical or social services treatment while simultaneously reducing the use of costly, labor-intensive emergency medical services.
“So far, roughly 35 percent of the frequent emergency room visitors studied in Washtenaw and Livingston counties were found to have drug or alcohol disorders and 40 percent were receiving mental health services,” writes Roelofs, who also notes the tenuous economic status of many frequent emergency room users is a complicating factor that “can mean uneven access to transportation, housing or food, all of which can prove obstacles to effective health care.”
“I see the emergency room as symptomatic of a lot of societal gaps and challenges,” says Jeremy Lapedis, project coordinator. In the article Lapedis details some of the early successes and challenges encountered by the project and ties those successes back to timely intervention and reduced emergency room use.