I am writing about the challenges resulting from the influx of mentally ill patients in local emergency rooms across the nation due to the lack of availability of psychiatric beds. As a registered nurse working with the mentally ill population, I believe that utilization of community resources such as VNA services or other community-based programs can decrease the incidence of these emergency room visits.
I have had a firsthand view of the gap between the emergency room and the community regarding mentally ill patients. Unfortunately, most of my home-care patients have had numerous emergency room visits and psychiatric inpatient hospitalizations prior to being referred for psychiatric VNA services or other community-based programs. I believe that referring these psychiatric patients to community-based programs or psychiatric VNA services upon discharge from the emergency room will decrease the frequency and utilization of emergency rooms nationwide.
As a nurse in the home-care setting, I am able to assist these mentally ill patients with stabilization by providing medication management, disease-process management, education, crisis intervention and ensuring regular follow-up with a psychiatrist, which can decrease the incidence of emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
New Bedford, Mass.