(WHTM) — Hospitals in the Midstate are slammed, and not just with COVID-19 patients. Many local emergency rooms are having to divert patients with mental health issues because they just don’t have the capacity. So what can people in crisis do to get the care they need?
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Midstate doctors say surges in people seeking help for behavioral health issues are common, and they are to be expected, but with emergency rooms crowded and with hours-long wait times, doctors say Midstate residents’ first call should be to their local crisis center.
By calling the crisis center, it can speed up the individual’s care process and if they are having an acute crisis, help cut their wait times.
UPMC and WellSpan are both sounding the alarm on overcrowding. WellSpace Doctor Dale Brickely says his system is seeing twice as many behavioral patients as it did at this time in 2019.
“18 to 20 months in the pandemic were seeing twice as many behavioral health patients coming to an ED for support than there was at this same time in 2019,” said Brickely.
He attributes that to the stressors and barriers related to the pandemic, but WellSpan is not alone.
“We’re seeing much more of a frequency in overdoses, suicidal ideations, depression, ya know needing help. They are in crisis needing admission or needing transfer to a mental health facility,” said Anthony Guarracino, UPMC chair of emergency medicine.
The most important message doctors have? If you need help, get help. Don’t put off treatment for any physical or mental issues, because that could easily make things worse for you in the long run.
Crisis centers by county: