The Louisiana Senate has passed a bill to create regionally focused crisis-receiving centers to provide services for residents with mental-health needs. Introduced by Sen. David Heitmeier (D-New Orleans), a physician, the bills goal is to triage patients for the right course of treatment, in an effort to reduce overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms, said Sybil Richard, deputy secretary for the state department of health and hospitals.
We found that the bed issue is not the issueits building a continuum of care so that people along the way have access to appropriate care, Richard said. Its wrong to think everyone belongs in a hospital for intense, acute treatment.
According to the department, the bill is the fourth and final piece of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindals mental-healthcare reform package, which Richard says has a budget of $89 million. This last piece of legislation needs to be signed by the president of the Senate before it is sent to Jindal for his signature, said a spokeswoman in the department. After it is signed, it will take effect immediately.
Combined with the other elements of Gov. Jindals comprehensive mental-health legislative package, this bill will help create a robust, community-based mental-health system designed to meet both the mental-healthcare and public safety needs of our communities, Alan Levine, secretary of the state department of health and hospitals, said in a statement about the bills passage. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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