Here is another in our continuing series of things going on around Rochester. Enjoy!

The emergency room often becomes the antithesis of its premise: patients wait for hours to be seen for a medical emergency. For patients with immediate psychiatric needs, not only do they waste time in the ER, but doctors are unable to treat them properly.

As a result, hospitals have begun implementing psychiatric urgent care services, and several others are working on making this a possibility. Strong Memorial Hospital, in Rochester, New York, is one of the medical facilities considering how to establish these services successfully.

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry ran a pilot program last year, but is currently finishing developing how these services will be administered. The department is finalizing logistics, such as business hours, and staffing. Many urgent care centers are open 24 hours a day, and offer patients care seven days a week, but the department is currently unsure of its plans.

The reason for the new treatment option stems from a back up in the emergency room, as well as in the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program. Also, according to Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, there is a shortage of psychiatrists in the area. In addition, the CPEP at Strong in the only one in the region.

Reports show that emergency room beds are often filled with patients with psychiatric needs, but treatments doctors in the ER can offer these patients are limited. Some doctors and health officials explain that these beds are consequently taken away from patients who have other urgent medical conditions that can be treated.

With the help of psychiatric urgent care, doctors hope that this problem can be alleviated.

Another medical facility that has implemented psychiatric urgent care is one treatment center in Kentucky, where patients can walk in with immediate mental health issues. The owner reports that since the clinic’s inception in January of this year, patients have flooded the treatment center. She opened the clinic to help patients who need additional psychiatric help in between visits to their own psychiatrist.

Strong will roll out the new urgent care program in the next couple of months, and does not need state certification to do so, as long as the Joint Commission grants accreditation. Associate chair for Clinical Services in the Department of Psychiatry at Strong, Dr. Glenn Currier, hopes the program will target patients who need immediate care, but do not necessarily require comprehensive services.