Conceding that they just don't have the capacity to deal with the rising flood of poor, mentally-ill patients, North Carolina mental health officials have closed their doors on accepting more than a limited number of patients from community hospitals. North Carolina public health execs say that the volume served by the state psych hospitals has grown rapidly since 2003, with many units serving substantially more people than they're licensed to serve. For example, Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh has had as many as 112 people in treatment in its 78-bed facility.
Under a new cap, the four state psychiatric hospitals can't accept new patients from community hospitals if the short-term units are at more than 110 percent of capacity. Local hospitals, which often end up admitting such patients through their emergency departments, will be asked to keep these patients on their inpatient psych units until room opens up within a public hospital setting. This, of course, could be bad to disastrous financially for the community hospitals, depending on whether they can qualify these patients for Medicaid or get state funding to help with the uncompensated care load.
For more information on the caps:
- read this Winston-Salem Journal article