This week, Indiana University Health began providing virtual behavioral health support services to IU Health White Memorial Hospital.
The new service provides around-the-clock access to advanced practice nursing and psychiatry for emergency room patients in need of a psychiatric evaluation. The virtual service aids IU Health’s smaller hospitals, such as White Memorial, enabling access to behavioral health expertise found in larger urban hospitals.
“Our Behavioral Health Hub serving rural hospitals will give more Hoosiers access to behavioral health care and will alleviate some of the strain put on emergency departments,” says Anne Gilbert, psychiatrist and medical director of Behavioral Health Virtual Services. “For many who don’t have access to a primary care physician or don’t know where to go—the emergency room becomes their entry point for treatment.”
Traditionally, patients at smaller or rural hospitals in need of a psych assessment must be transferred via ambulance to a bigger hospital—causing long wait times for treatment, expensive bills and transportation issues once they are released. The hub will allow them to stay where they are and significantly cut the wait time for an assessment.
“Addressing the growing need for behavioral health issues in our community is a priority,” added Mary Minier, president of IU Health White Memorial Hospital. “Having around the clock access to experts when help is needed most during critical moments is an important key.”
Patients will be assessed when they come into an IU Health White Memorial emergency department as someone in need of a psych evaluation. ED personnel will connect patients with the advanced practice nurses or psychiatrists who interact live via video.
The Behavioral Health Hub offers 24/7 access to social workers and therapists so that even when they are not admitted, they’ll have access to a safety plan, acute treatment and a follow-up the next day behavioral health services in their area.
“Our clinicians in the emergency department have identified behavioral health as a critical need and are excited about this innovative approach to psychiatric care. We are confident that it will help us better serve our patients during a time of crisis.” says Cherri Hobgood, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at IU School of Medicine.
This initiative is part of IU Health’s strategic plan and aims to impact the health of Hoosiers. Mental health has become more of a focus because in order to move the needle on becoming a healthier state, we must address mental health.
IU Health is always looking for community partners in behavioral health.