SPRINGFIELD – When a person with a mental health condition calls 911, they don’t always need the hospital – but are typically taken to an emergency room rather than the mental health facility they require. State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is leading a measure that would change that by allowing EMS workers to take patients where they’ll most benefit.

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“Imagine going through a mental health crisis, then being taken to an emergency room, rather than a place that can actually help you,” Bush said. “That’s going to cause anger and frustration – let alone waste time that could be used to begin treatment.”

Currently, EMS providers can only take a patient to an emergency room, where a medical professional can then determine if they would be better suited for a mental health facility. To bypass the extra – often unnecessary and costly – step, Senate Bill 693 allows direct transport to proper assistance. 

EMS workers would have the opportunity to request bypass of the hospital if the patient has no immediate life-threatening injury or illness, is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and does not have an obvious need to be seen by emergency room personnel.

Behavioral health patients are increasingly putting pressure on emergency departments. They often occupy emergency rooms at disproportionate rates due to a limited number of psychiatric inpatient beds, limited community resources or a lack of access to care. Not only does this put a burden on overflowing emergency rooms – especially in the age of COVID-19 – it also can be financially cumbersome.

“Being admitted to the emergency room – no matter if you have insurance or not – can be very expensive,” Bush said. “Let’s work to ensure people can get the fastest treatment possible without unnecessary fees.”

The measure passed the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

 

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Springfield Office:
218 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-7353

District Office:
10 N. Lake St., Suite 112
Grayslake, IL 60030
Phone: (847) 548-5631