Wichita, Kansas (KWCH) – As demand for mental health resources rises during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers are experiencing stress as they try to meet increasing patient needs while coping with labor shortages. We are facing a lot of situations.
Last week, Robin Chadwick, president of Ascension Via Christie St. Joseph, briefed Kansas legislators on what hospital staff are facing and how the state can help.
The location with the most prominent challenges is St. Joseph’s emergency room. Coming in through the emergency room are many behavioral patients, in addition to those in need of treatment.
Chadwick said ER overcrowding is a major reason hospital staff are facing violent incidents.
“Will I get kicked, punched, punched, or will I see my colleague get hurt today?” Chadwick said.
The ER at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph has 29 beds.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in patient numbers over the last few years, so we need 49 rooms to provide safe care,” says Chadwick.
Across the healthcare industry, mental health providers face some of the most pronounced labor shortages seen in the healthcare industry.
“About 600 patients come to St. Joe’s emergency room each month for mental health crises. It’s really straining our staff and asking us for space,” said Chadwick. said.
Chadwick said he is waiting to hear from the state after requesting $22 million in ARPA funding to expand St. Joseph’s Hospital’s ER to 49 rooms.
“There’s more space and patients and staff aren’t piled on top of each other. It would really help with violent incidents,” she said.
The ER is the front line for mental health, but it won’t be the last place to see rising mental health needs. St. Joseph has his 101 inpatient beds, mostly for adults. Chadwick says his occupancy rate is 95%.
“It’s not at all uncommon in our emergency department to have 10 to 20 more patients waiting to be admitted to the inpatient ward who came here for a behavioral health crisis.” she said.
Chadwick said building a State Psychiatric Hospital in Sedgwick County is one of the best ways to support the growing demand for mental health care and serve patients who need more advanced care. said it would.
“Eleven to 12 patients a month are eligible for state health care, which is another factor contributing to overcrowding in both our ER and high occupancy of inpatient beds.” she said.
This year’s state budget included funding for a 50-bed mental hospital in Sedgwick County. Chadwick said providers also need help from state legislators to address some of the workforce needs to make sure the necessary staff are there to run the facility. said.
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