Saturday, November 04, 2006

Psych beds dropping like fish

According to yesterday's Science Magazine, we may lose the availability of sustainable fisheries by 2048 (see Scientific American: Overfishing Could Take Seafood Off the Menu by 2048). The article predicts total collapse of all world fisheries by 2048. "Total collapse" is defined as 90% depletion since the 1950s.

[prepare for non sequitur]

We have also been rapidly losing the availability of psychiatric beds for folks in need of acute inpatient hospitalization for mental health problems like major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. In Where have all the psych beds gone?, I deplored the massive loss of inpatient psychiatric beds over the past 40 years or so. We used to have 20.4 beds per 10,000 population, and it is now down to 3.6. The numbers are now at about 18% of what they were previously. Another 8% to go before the U.S. hits "total collapse." Of course, there has been an opposite trend in forensic psychiatric beds, but I'll leave that for Clink to blog about (also see Hot Potato).

"Holy mackerel!" is right. People are boarding for days at a time in Emergency Rooms all over the country, waiting for a bed to become available. So, what's the current state of affairs? Check it out...

Pennsylvania State Hospitals Cutting Beds: NAMI President, Dr. Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, as well as other citizens, petitioned the governor to halt bed closures. "'We ask this because of current inadequacies in community resources and the lack of a statewide comprehensive plan for closure and placement,' the petition reads."

Florida Community Loses 16 Beds: Citrus County now has no psychiatry beds. Hospital officials say the beds were not needed. "But mental health advocates say Florida faces a shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds. The state received the lowest score possible in terms of access to inpatient services, according to a recent study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 'There are about 3,000 more beds needed in the state,' said Sue Homant, executive director for NAMI Florida. 'My personal guess is the number is even higher than that.'" ... According to NAMI's Report Card, Florida scored an F in Infrastructure, 48 out of 50 in per capita spending on mental health (a whopping $37.99 per person), and was number 15 in suicide rank. Florida is floundering.

Ohio Gaining Beds: "Mental health professionals say more beds are needed since a number of hospitals with psychiatric services closed or cut beds in the past decade."

Connecticut ERs Filled to the Gills: 2-weeks in ER awaiting a bed is common [treating them in a unit takes less time than this].

Let us know what is happening in your state (or country).