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Coastal Horizons, hospital developing program for mental health patients

 

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
              919-855-4840

Coastal Horizons, hospital developing program for mental health patients
by Molly Parker
Wilmington Star News
December 10, 2013
http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20131210/articles/131219981?tc=ar

Wilmington, N.C. - A local mental health provider is in discussions to partner with New Hanover Regional Medical Center to reduce costly emergency department visits by people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Coastal Horizons Center's President and CEO Margaret Weller-Stargell said Monday that the two organizations are in discussion about how to implement a cost-sharing pilot plan to encourage emergency department diversions for those who can instead receive treatment and follow-up care at the local outpatient clinic in Wilmington.

Coastal offers a wide range of substance abuse, crisis intervention, and criminal justice services to persons in need.

Stargell spoke in Raleigh at the first meeting of the state Department of Health and Human Service's Crisis Solutions Initiative, which is a new effort by Gov. Pat McCrory's administration to identify community programs that work and duplicate them in communities across the state.

Stargell said the pilot plan being crafted between Coastal Horizon and New Hanover Regional could be one of those identified best practices.

About 80 people attended the meeting earlier this week in the capital city representing health care providers, hospitals, law enforcement, state and elected officials and others. The group is charged with identifying solutions to reduce the number of emergency department visits by people with mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as the recidivism rate from repeat emergency department visitors.

Dave Richard, head of DHHS's mental health division, kicked off the discussion by noting that many people at the table have been involved in past efforts to write reports about reforming the system. But that's not the goal of this group, he said.

"This is not another report and our effort isn't about writing another report," Richard said, noting that despite all the information on the table about what's broken with the system officials have "not been able to focus the way we should."

He said one problem is that emergency responders and others don't know of alternatives to the emergency department for individuals in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment whose crises don't warrant emergency care.

"We believe communication is the first part of this," Richard said. DHHS is working on implementing a website to share information with the public and first responders.

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