Lawrence General Hospital to add Behavioral Health Coordinator with State Grant

Lawrence General Hospital. (Photograph by Swampyank. Creative Commons.)

Lawrence General Hospital will use its share of $3 million in grants from the state attorney general’s office to add a to add a bilingual behavioral health coordinator to follow up with patients released from emergency room care.

The hospital is one of 11 nonprofits statewide to share Mental Health Diversionary Services Grant money intended to divert patients in need of urgent mental health care to access treatment without needing to go through a hospital’s emergency department. In Lawrence General’s case, a new coordinator will provide intensive case management following a behavioral health-related emergency department visit, including ensuring individuals have access to medications and receive the services they need in the community, including peer support services, after discharge.

“The demand for urgent mental health care services across the state has placed unprecedented pressure on our hospital emergency departments and overall capacity,” said outgoing Attorney General Maura Healey. “This innovative new grant program will help address existing shortfalls and help ensure that residents in need of mental health care services receive appropriate support.”

The state further explained emergency department boarding happens when a patient in need of mental health services must wait in an emergency department or medical-surgical bed—sometimes for days or even weeks—until a psychiatric bed or other appropriate services become available.

Conditions contributing to the so-called boarding crisis, including increased demand for mental health services and staffing shortages, have escalated the need for the type of community-based crisis care that will be paid through the program.

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