North Carolina would need to increase the number of beds at its psychiatric hospital in Butner by 165 percent to get the waiting list down to one day.
Professor Joe Morrissey and his team found that patients wait an average of three days for a bed at Central Regional Hospital, which is one of North Carolina's three state-run psychiatric hospitals. Morrissey said they all struggle to meet demand.
"The problem now is that there's great demands on the hospital for more beds, more access because our community services are so inadequate in many respects," Morrissey said.
Morrissey says consistent, intensive treatment at the community level is more affordable and can prevent many psychiatric emergencies.
He said he is optimistic that a recent federal grant to help the state build behavioral health centers could help alleviate the problem.