One Step at a Time

February 18, 2019 By: Bob Atlas

There is a crisis in our state, faced by an estimated one in five Marylanders: mental health and substance use disorders (SUD).

That is why your Maryland Hospital Association (MHA) created the Behavioral Health Task Force. Fifteen months ago, that group – made up of hospital leaders and experts in mental health and SUD — presented the Roadmap to an Essential, Comprehensive System of Behavioral Health Care for Maryland.

Since then we’ve worked fulfill the charge of that report: to identify and address key behavioral health issues affecting Maryland’s hospitals and the communities they serve. Some achievements to date:

  • MHA started studying discharge delays, beginning with the inpatient setting. The first study, released last Tuesday — Behavioral Health Discharge Delays in Maryland Hospitals — focuses on patients in inpatient psychiatric and medical units.
  • We are about to launch a second study — this time focused on discharge delays in Maryland’s emergency departments.
  • MHA submitted a report, Emergency Discharge Protocols for Patients with Substance Use Disorders and Opioid Overdoses in Maryland’s Hospitals, to the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland Department of Health (MDH). It describes hospitals’ discharge protocols for patients with SUD or who suffered an opioid overdose.
  • MDH, in response to MHA-proposed budget language, issued a report detailing that a workforce shortage was hurting Marylanders’ access to behavioral health services.
  • Behavioral health needs also will be taken into consideration when legislation to modernize the Certificate of Need process, championed by the MHA, is considered by lawmakers in Annapolis in March.

MHA will continue to fight to remove all barriers to timely placement, secure investment in needed services, and ensure mental health and SUD patients have access to high quality care in the right setting.