In Search of the Right Care

February 25, 2020 By: Bob Atlas

Hospitals in Maryland deliver care to every person who comes through their doors. But it seems for some of our patients, those doors only swing in one direction.

A recent National Public Radio piece on this issue caught my attention. It points out dozens of children in Maryland’s foster care system are languishing in hospitals when they no longer need hospital-level care. Sadly, we often face barriers transitioning young patients – particularly those with behavioral health concerns—to facilities or community-based services better suited to their needs.

This takes a toll on these children and has ripple effects for your organizations—filling much-needed bed space and crowding your emergency departments.

Last year a comprehensive study of your organizations found 42% of behavioral health emergency department patients were delayed during discharge or transfer. Data show children and teens are more likely to be delayed and their delays are twice those for adults.

A study of inpatient units found behavioral health patients were delayed during discharge 13 days on average, and 60% of delays were caused by lack of bed space in a preferred setting. The foster children identified in the NPR piece are particularly vulnerable to this problem as they navigate a complicated government system as part of their discharge process.

We are pleased to see legislators sponsoring House Bill 1382 to bring this issue to light and appreciate their elevating the topic. There are no simple solutions, but we are committed to collaborating with all who care to solve this complex problem.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO