NC’s Problems and Potential Solutions Re: High Emergency Department Use at the Center of Many Discussions

Please note the article from the New York Times published this past week.  We thank Susan Rogers from the National Mental Health Consumers Self-Help Clearinghouse for sharing this link with us, below. It’s a well written article about the needs in our state and at least one very timely innovation currently working in the Wake County area.  See the link, below. Great data in the article.
What the article didn’t catch was that on December 16 and 17 the North Carolina Hospital Association presented a two day forum on mental health care and ways to better respond so that people might have a reduction in crises needing inpatient care and that might help them toward recovery.   Planned by NCHA’s Erica Nelson, it was much more recovery-oriented than some of us might have expected.   In fact, Cherene Caraco spoke of of functional reality of recovery and how peers working in inpatient settings can help to support improved outcomes from hospitalization. Laurie Coker addressed the role of peer specialists from practices across the country (including peers respite centers and warm lines, peer counselors in emergency departments, and peer bridgers)in preventing unnecessary hospitalization and in reducing re-hospitalization.  A workgroup was then facilitated by Victor Armstrong for several lead hospital staff from across the state who want to target innovations using peer specialists.  
I believe this is the first time that North Carolina Hospital Association has asked peers to share their knowledge as potential solutions.  I was very encouraged, in fact, it was exciting to hear how many people talked about recovery as a reality that could be expected!   Times, they are a-changing, perhaps?  We have to have change, because unnecessary hospitalization or ED waits can be very traumatic to some individuals.  They make recovery more difficult–one more thing (often depersonalizing and making one feel so vulnerable with no control over what is going to happen) to heal from.
When people do truly need hospitalization, this is a different matter.  There should be that option for those who want or need it because symptoms are so severe.  So alternatives that reduce the large flux of people in emergency departments, such as peer operated respite centers and other crisis settings, should help those who truly need a bed to have one.

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