This letter is in response to "Lee County program reduces emergency room visits by focusing on patient needs."
Psychiatric emergencies in Southwest Florida mirror what's being seen nationwide.
Millions of people are in emergency departments with psychiatric emergencies because there are severe shortages of mental health resources in the United States. Many of these patients repeatedly return to the emergency department because they have no other options for care.
According to a recent poll, nearly nine in 10 emergency physicians reported that patients with psychiatric illness were being "held" in their emergency departments — often for days — until behavioral health beds became available for them.
We applaud what the ECHO (Extended Community Health Outreach) program is doing for patients, but lawmakers at both the state and national level need to provide more in terms of resources and legislation to combat the mental health crisis that is only getting worse.
Jay Kaplan, M.D., Washington, D.C.
American College of Emergency Physicians