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Simplifying the Search for Hospital Beds

Hospitals in eastern North Carolina are now using an online message board that lists beds available for patients with mental illnesses or substance abuse problems. Sixteen facilities are using the pilot program designed to streamline the admission process for those patients. Luckey Welsh is the director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities. He says patients can sometimes spend days in the Emergency Room while the hospital looks for an available bed.

Luckey Welsh: "They would sort of have their list of people they might call. If you can imagine, they'd go down the list and say, 'I have a particular patient, male, with this diagnosis. Do you have a bed available?' So there was a long process for ER people to get someone placed."
Welsh says that causes a traffic jam in the ER and does not always provide the care mental illness or substance abuse patients need. He expects facilities across the state to start using the system by the end of the year.

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