NewsLocal News


New program to improve inpatient mental healthcare in and around Omaha

DHHS partners with OpenBeds to improve timely access to inpatient mental healthcare in and around Nebraska
Posted at 10:09 AM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-27 11:09:38-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Residents in and around Omaha should expect to see improved access to inpatient mental healthcare soon.

"We wanted to start with the Omaha area, just because it has the largest acute psych beds for us. Our goal is really to decrease the wait time in the emergency departments," said Mikayla Johnson, the network administrator for the Division of Behavioral Health.

The Division of Behavioral Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is participating in a pilot program called OpenBeds. This program will improve technology by unifying behavioral health resources to speed up access to treatment.

"This just really helps us know where there is beds available. It can help law enforcement if somebody is picked up, then it would help the transition even further," said Johnson.

Before this pilot program began, the technology was lacking, and took much longer for hospital staff to get the right treatment for patients seeking psychiatric care.

"To find an acute bed prior to this, they had to call other hospitals every four hours and ask for bed information. This provides a cloud-based program in real-time. So instead of the hospital staff calling around each hospital, it's just a program they can pull up. You can even pull it up on your phone and see who has beds available," said Johnson.

This pilot program will last two years, and if all goes well, these services will be used across Nebraska.

"We provide funding for mental health and substance use disorder for individuals that don't have other insurance or Medicaid. We're really one of few states that provides state general funds," said Johnson.

Funding for this program came through a grant, and Nebraska was one of around 25 states to be approved.

For more information, check out the Division of Behavioral Health website.