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Nebraska joins national project to reduce wait time for psychiatric beds

Posted at 3:54 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 16:54:38-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska was selected as one of 23 states in a new crisis intervention registry project focused on reducing the time those with a psychiatric emergency wait for inpatient beds.

The registries could be used by emergency personnel to find available beds so people in psychiatric need can quickly gain access to treatments.

Funding for the registry is a joint project between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Each participating state has received a $150,000 grant.

Nebraska is the only Midwestern state to have been selected, a press release from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said.

“Our goal is to provide critically important, safe and intensive care in the least restrictive setting for individuals with serious mental illnesses as quickly as we can, so they can begin the process of recovery,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nebraska's registry will be piloted in Region 6, which includes Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties--the state's most populous behavioral health region.

Data from these beginning locations will aid in examining bed capacity, workforce, and barriers to access.

Region 6 and the Division of Behavioral Health will develop a workgroup, including representatives from the region, DHHS, local emergency personnel, hospitals, law enforcement, behavioral health providers, county attorneys, and community members. Individuals with lived experience in psychiatric care will also be involved.

The workgroup plans to create a centralized, real-time system designed to track inpatient beds and look at capacity in the region.

Planning for the registry is just beginning. The current projection is to have the pilot implemented in Region 6 this summer.

Other states chosen to participate in the registry include several locations similar in population, including New Mexico, West Virginia and Rhode Island, as well as Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.