Northeast Ohio Hospitals Report Increased Demand For Psychiatric, Drug Addiction Patients

by Sarah Jane Tribble

The number of people seeking psychological or drug addiction treatment from Northeast Ohio hospitals is steadily climbing and has been for the past decade, according to a new report from the Center for Health Affairs. 

The Center for Health Affairs reports that the number of days pscyh patients or those with drug addiction spent in local hospitals had risen by 5 percent in the second quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

The number of patients discharged from local hospitals coping with mental illness or drug addiction is also rising, up more than 4 percent year over year, a spokeswoman for the hospital advocacy group says. 

And that increase in demand plays out in the emergency department at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.
 
"At any given time, we have anywhere between one and 8 patients in our emergency room needing placement for an inpatient psychiatric admission," says Jane Dus, the chief nursing officer at UH.  "And there is a complete lack of psych beds in the community and in the state." 
 
Most hospitals in the region have some inpatient pscyh beds, but it's not enough for the increased demand, says Dus. That lack of beds means many patients wait in the emergency room, she says. 

"The average stay of these patients in our emergency room is 16 hours and a third of them stay over 24 hours waiting for placement," Dus says. "To get psychiatric patients admitted is incredibly challenging."
 
Dus says the patients are often suicidal or are suffering from mental illnesses such as bipolar and schizophrenia. 

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