Massachusetts mom highlights ’emergency department boarding’ problem, psychiatric inpatient bed need

The call for help was impossible to ignore for one Massachusetts mother.”Our son had come to us and said, ‘I’m not OK. I need help. I feel like I’m going to hurt somebody or myself,'” she said.Christine, who asked 5 Investigates not to use her last name to protect her teen son’s identity, brought her teen son to a local hospital emergency room.”He sat in that ER for six days without any movement,” she said.Then the hospital told them there wasn’t a psychiatric bed available anywhere in the state and sent their son home.”We told them, ‘No, you can’t discharge our son. He’s not safe. He hasn’t had treatment. He’s not OK,'” she said.”And 10 days later, he blew up, and it was so much worse the second time. And we had police involvement and trauma,” she said.The cycle continued with their son back isolated in a room in another emergency room.”Horrible, horrible for our son. No air, no windows. You can go to the bathroom and back to your room. No walks. Can’t crack your door open,” she said. “This is inhumane.””So there he is, day after day after day after day, we’re waiting and we’re waiting. Nineteen days until we finally get a bed on an adult unit,” she said.The problem is known as Emergency Department boarding, where people in hospital emergency rooms are waiting for psychiatric inpatient beds. Numbers from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association show it’s an ongoing issue. At the end of March, there were 247 children were waiting in emergency departments. That number dipped to 99 as of this past week. A child therapist, who agreed to talk with 5 Investigates if we concealed her identity, said she is “seeing a complete disaster and a lack of resources that are putting kids and families at risk every day.””People are at their wits ends,” said state Sen. Cindy Friedman, who is not only chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing but also has a child with a serious mental illness.”What is the solution to fixing this problem?” 5 Investigates’ Mike Beaudet asked Friedman.”We still have to start treating mental illness exactly like we treat other medical conditions,” the Arlington Democrat replied.Beacon Hill has already given $10 million for adolescent beds and $120 million for loan repayment programs to help recruit and retain mental health professionals. The Senate has passed the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0, aimed at addressing barriers to care. The act is now in the house.It would create an online portal to help find open beds and require all hospital EDs to have a behavioral health clinician onsite to evaluate and stabilize people admitted to the ER with mental health issues.Nearly $200 million that’s supposed to help address the mental health crisis by creating a Behavioral Health Trust Fund is in legislative limbo. The legislature approved it, but the governor vetoed it last month, saying he supports the fund and its goals but believes the way the legislature set it up creates a bureaucratic process that won’t address the crisis quickly enough.”(Mental health care) is complicated and it’s expensive, and there’s no easy way,” Friedman said. “There’s not a pill that you give somebody and, ‘OK, you’re all better.'”Christine hopes people are paying attention and push their elected officials to prioritize adding resources to help children like her son who are suffering.”If this were any other illness, we would get the help. But this is mental illness,” she said.

The call for help was impossible to ignore for one Massachusetts mother.

“Our son had come to us and said, ‘I’m not OK. I need help. I feel like I’m going to hurt somebody or myself,'” she said.

Christine, who asked 5 Investigates not to use her last name to protect her teen son’s identity, brought her teen son to a local hospital emergency room.

“He sat in that ER for six days without any movement,” she said.

Then the hospital told them there wasn’t a psychiatric bed available anywhere in the state and sent their son home.

“We told them, ‘No, you can’t discharge our son. He’s not safe. He hasn’t had treatment. He’s not OK,'” she said.

“And 10 days later, he blew up, and it was so much worse the second time. And we had police involvement and trauma,” she said.

The cycle continued with their son back isolated in a room in another emergency room.

“Horrible, horrible for our son. No air, no windows. You can go to the bathroom and back to your room. No walks. Can’t crack your door open,” she said. “This is inhumane.”

“So there he is, day after day after day after day, we’re waiting and we’re waiting. Nineteen days until we finally get a bed on an adult unit,” she said.

a shortage of psychiatric beds for adolescents is helping create a mental health&# x20;crisis in massachusetts.

WCVB

Christine, the mother of a teen with mental illness, experienced first-hand the crisis in mental health care in Massachusetts.

The problem is known as Emergency Department boarding, where people in hospital emergency rooms are waiting for psychiatric inpatient beds. Numbers from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association show it’s an ongoing issue.

At the end of March, there were 247 children waiting in emergency departments. That number dipped to 99 as of this past week.

A child therapist, who agreed to talk with 5 Investigates if we concealed her identity, said she is “seeing a complete disaster and a lack of resources that are putting kids and families at risk every day.”

“People are at their wits ends,” said state Sen. Cindy Friedman, who is not only chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing but also has a child with a serious mental illness.

“What is the solution to fixing this problem?” 5 Investigates’ Mike Beaudet asked Friedman.

“We still have to start treating mental illness exactly like we treat other medical conditions,” the Arlington Democrat replied.

a shortage of psychiatric beds for adolescents is helping create a mental health&# x20;crisis in massachusetts.

WCVB

State Senator Cindy Friedman is chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing and has a child with a serious mental illness.

Beacon Hill has already given $10 million for adolescent beds and $120 million for loan repayment programs to help recruit and retain mental health professionals.

The Senate has passed the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0, aimed at addressing barriers to care. The act is now in the house.

It would create an online portal to help find open beds and require all hospital EDs to have a behavioral health clinician onsite to evaluate and stabilize people admitted to the ER with mental health issues.

Nearly $200 million that’s supposed to help address the mental health crisis by creating a Behavioral Health Trust Fund is in legislative limbo. The legislature approved it, but the governor vetoed it last month, saying he supports the fund and its goals but believes the way the legislature set it up creates a bureaucratic process that won’t address the crisis quickly enough.

“(Mental health care) is complicated and it’s expensive, and there’s no easy way,” Friedman said. “There’s not a pill that you give somebody and, ‘OK, you’re all better.'”

Christine hopes people are paying attention and push their elected officials to prioritize adding resources to help children like her son who are suffering.

“If this were any other illness, we would get the help. But this is mental illness,” she said.

.

Leave a Comment