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) championed a new law that allows 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 costly and unnecessary trip, the new law allows direct transport to proper assistance. 

EMS workers would have the opportunity to request such a bypass 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 by occupying 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 for patients.

“Even with insurance, being admitted to the emergency room can be very expensive,” Bush said. “I am pleased we have ensured people can now receive the fastest treatment possible without unnecessary fees.”

The law was signed by Governor JB Pritzker Friday. It takes effect immediately.

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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