Emergency Department Adding Mental Health Center

5:44 PM, May 14, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, Sc (WLTX) - A renovated wing in the Palmetto Health Emergency Department hopes to increase quality of care for patients with mental illness.

Physicians at Palmetto Health Richland tell News 19 that treating mental health patients in the emergency room has become common place. One in ten patients coming through their doors requires special care for mental illness.

"This is a huge deal. This is almost unheard of in Emergency Departments."

ER Physician Troy Privette at Palmetto Health Richland describes the past ten years trying to treat mental health patients as its own crisis.

"At one point we were up to holding 30 mental health patients in the E.D waiting on beds which is not optimal for the Emergency Department not the patients," said Privette.

While the department adjusted by bringing on a psychiatric staff to treat patients with mental health needs, Privette says it hasn't been enough.

"It's not uncommon to have 30 people waiting on beds because the state mental health system has cut back so much on their in patient bed space availability." 

But starting in September, the hospital will will begin renovations to a specialized wing of the Emergency Department named the Joyce Hampton Behavioral Health Center.

Psychiatrist Dr. Nioaka Campbell says the new department will add 12 new beds, freeing up space in the ER and giving patients with mental illness more privacy.

"We are in an Emergency Room where people are coming in with traumas and other illnesses for stroke and heart attack, so being able to have a separate wing for mental health needs is going to be much more specialized care," said Campbell.

The renovated wing will provide eighteen hours of psychiatric coverage daily. 

"The new facility along with Dr. Campbell and her staff is going to be really leaps and bounds ahead of where we've been and where we need to go," said Privette.

One that physicians say will decrease pressure in the department while improving the quality of care.

"Much better from the psychiatric team's standpoint and the medical staff and the patient as well," said Privette.

The Joyce Hampton Behaviorial Center is expected to open sometime in 2013.

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