Long ER stays for kids in crisis on the rise

Kids with mental health woes are spending nights in the ER.
Kids with mental health woes are spending nights in the ER.

Just a few years ago, it was rare that children with mental health problems would spend two or more nights in the emergency room at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Only 40 children stayed that long in 2010.

So far this year, more than 250 children have spent multiple nights in the emergency department (ED) – a number expected to reach 500 by the end of the year.

As policy makers work to finalize a statewide children’s behavioral health plan, a report by the hospital, obtained by C-HIT, projects that children with mental health problems will spend a total of 3,085 nights in the ED – more than triple the number in 2010. The average stay is about 15 hours, with some children remaining in the ED for 10 days or more.

Yale-New Haven Hospital also has seen a 10- to 15-percent increase in ED visits this year, as it has in each of the past several years, said Dr. Andres Martin, medical director of children’s psychiatric inpatient services.

See the complete story at Connecticut Health I-Team.


One response to “Long ER stays for kids in crisis on the rise”

  1. Suzanne

    This article describes the mental health non parity treatment which underlies the stigma associated with mental health disease or disorder. It has long been the goal of health care institutions (and insurance companies) to emphasize preventative health measures over last minute emergency room treatment, both expensive and often ineffective long term healthcare strategy. This applies to everything BUT pediatric mental healthcare, apparently, in the State of Connecticut.
    DCF in this State is exacerbating the emergency room care crisis by taking a skewed version of “care” and forcing it on families who are unprepared to deal with it. Say, instead of mental health issues, your child has acute heart failure or diabetic coma. These illnesses would be treated with extensive in-patient care and education for the families who, once their kids were stabilized, would know what medicines and therapies their children would need.
    Instead, DCF insists on dumping these children into family situations unprepared to deal with mental health (heart disease or diabetes) and, further, close group homes that have the potential for treating and stabilizing these patients.
    This is a crisis in this State. To examine “National Averages” and say everything is “A-OK” per DCF is certainly not the point – the fact that their approach is not working, is costing the State lives and resources? That, to me, would be the higher consideration.
    It is a tragedy and shameful. In spite of gains in social consciousness about mental health as comparable to disease of any other part of the body, the very agency charged with caring for these children is somehow not seeing the problems, with their perspective.
    Hello, Commissioner Katz? YOUR APPROACH IS NOT WORKING! How many more kids’ lives and families are you going to put in jeopardy by this reduction in services to mentally ill children?

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