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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 23, 2019 11:36 AM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: Mental Health Treatment - Database for Availability of Services
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation creating a real-time, voluntary reporting system to identify available psychiatric beds across the Commonwealth. This database would be administered by the Department of Health to give providers information on the availability of these beds at participating hospitals with the goal of improving patient care and easing overcrowding in emergency departments. This legislation was Senate Bill 179 from last session.

Under federal law, a hospital is required to find a bed for an emergency room patient with a severe and immediate medical need. However, if a hospital is unable to treat an individual with an acute psychiatric problem, emergency room personnel must contact other hospitals to find a vacancy.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported on this issue and found beds in hospital psychiatric units in Pennsylvania regularly sit empty due to a lack of direct communication between providers seeking care for these patients and facilities with available services for them. This presents a burden on our already overwhelmed emergency rooms and creates unnecessary delays for patients in need.

Specifically, the registry will:

· Include contact information and descriptive details for participating psychiatric facilities throughout the state. This information would also apply to residential crisis stabilization units;
· Provide real-time information regarding the number of beds available at each facility; the type of patient who may be admitted; and level of security; and
· Identify appropriate facilities for detention and treatment of individuals who meet the criteria for temporary detention.

Please join me to cosponsor this legislation and join the 22 other states including the District of Columbia that have such a registry in place.

Introduced as SB437