Bartolotta Bill Would Improve Access to Mental Health Treatment

HARRISBURG — Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46) introduced legislation today that would help reduce hospital emergency room overcrowding and connect patients in need of mental health services to the care they need.

Bartolotta’s bill would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units by creating a real-time, voluntary registry to identify psychiatric treatment facilities that have available beds for patients. The measure would help reduce the amount of staff time spent searching for available beds.

Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia already have similar registries in place to improve patient care.

A recent report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicated that 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.

“Many hospitals lack the available resources to treat individuals who have an acute psychiatric problem, creating a need for emergency room personnel to devote the additional time and effort to find another hospital that can treat the patient,” Bartolotta said. “My legislation will help alleviate situations where these patients are often waiting several hours while staff locate inpatient beds in another facility or make transfer arrangements. Ultimately, this approach will help hospitals communicate better to ensure patients are matched to appropriate facilities and services.”

Under the bill, the registry which would be administered by the state Department of Health and include contact information and descriptive details for participating psychiatric facilities throughout the state as well as provide real-time information regarding the number of beds available at each facility, the type of patient to be admitted and level of security.

CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463