Urgent Matters and the Gary and Mary West Health Institute recently announced the winners of their 2018 Emergency Care Innovation of the Year Award, and Adventist Health and Rideout  received honorable mention.

The competition is designed to foster innovation in emergency departments nationwide. Urgent Matters is a national initiative dedicated to finding, developing and delivering strategies to improve patient flow and reduce emergency department crowding, according to a press release from George Washington University.

“Recognizing the impact of patients placed on involuntary psychiatric holds that are being sent to the emergency department, Adventist Health and Rideout Health designed a new, innovative way to care for behavioral health patients,” the press release said.

The director of emergency services at Rideout, Theresa Hyer, said she and Susan Redford, emergency psychiatric supervisor with Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health, went to the 2018 American College of Emergency Physicians conference assembly in San Diego to present what the hospital and county have been working on to assist and better serve patients.

The goal was to deliver the highest quality care for psychiatric patients while waiting in the emergency department, according to the release.

“Realizing the county would be closing their involuntary psychiatric services, Rideout Health worked collaboratively with their county and agreed to embed county-paid crisis counselors in the emergency department 24 hours a day,” the press release said.

The hospital and the county have been working together on the program for close to three years.

“We help 100 percent of the behavioral health patients seen in the ER.  We discharge home approximately 50 percent of patients with behavioral health issues that come through the ER,” Hyer said. “We evaluated and treated all behavioral health patients by working collaboratively with the county and using tele-psychiatry services.” 

Hyer said 50 percent are discharged rather than sent to an inpatient psychiatric bed at another hospital.

“We have no in-patient psychiatric health services,” Hyer said. “It’s a national crisis, not just in California. There aren’t enough beds to place all the patients that come into the ER.”

Through the use of tele-psychiatry services and clear clinical pathways the team work together to see 100 percent of patients with a behavioral health diagnosis. Medications were either started or resumed, safety plans were designed, and follow up appointments arranged by the team, according to the release.

They’ve received local attention, too.

“We’ve won the Innovation Award  from the Chamber of Commerce and the Rising Star award from the Chamber of Commerce,” Hyer said.

They have also been awarded the Statewide CSAC Award by the county and the California Hospital Association Innovation Award.

Hyer and Redford have spoken on behalf of the Emergency Department and the partnership with the county across the country and will be speaking at the California Hospital Association behavioral health symposium in Riverside in December.

Hyer said it’s important to work with their county partners in order to provide services needs to their patients.

“Historically, counties and hospitals have worked in silos,” Hyer said. “They haven’t really worked hand and hand together. So that’s why this is so big and so important.”

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