St. Luke’s contracts for crisis service system

Published 9:22 pm Monday, March 8, 2010

St. Lukes announced last week it has entered into a 3-way contract to help keep mental health, substance abuse and developmentally disabled patients out of state mental hospitals as much as possible.
Becky Brodar, St. Lukes Gero-Psych Units Community Outreach Leader presented to the Polk County Board of Commissioners last Monday what the contract enables the hospital to do.
Brodar said House Bill 2436 recently appropriated $8 million to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to expand acute indigent care bed capacity in local hospitals after seeing an overuse of state psychiatric hospitals.
St. Lukes entered into a contract with the DHHS and Western Highlands, Polks mental health entity, to enable the hospital to keep patients enough to get them stabilized and leave the hospital with seven days worth of medication instead of transporting them to a state facility.
The patient will be required to set up an appointment with a doctor/psychiatrist to ensure the patient has means to further treatment and medication.
St. Lukes is equipped to take patients ages 55 and older only, but can take patients from anywhere and will receive a payment of $750 per day to help hospitals break even with indigent patients .
“The state was seeing an overuse of state psychiatric hospitals and declining referral sources for follow-up treatment,” Brodar said. “There was back-up in ERs, law enforcement was backed up with transports; what we needed was a comprehensive crisis service system across all disabilities.”
Law enforcement often deals with mental health patients who are off medications and may just need to be stabilized, but are sent to state psychiatric hospitals far from Polk County.
Pardee is also a part of the 3-way contract for local patients to go for treatment who are under age 55. The bill that was passed includes that indigent patients pay nothing for the seven days worth of medication and clinics such as Polks Wellness Center, which can help patients obtain further medications.
Brodar thanked Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson, who she said was very instrumental in working with the state to achieve the 3-way contract goal. Whitson is the current chair of Western Highlands Network, which oversees mental health, substance abuse and developmentally disabled services for an eight-county region.

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