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Bills Address Long Waits for Behavioral Health Patients
Date:6/25/2009

NJHA, NJ-ACEP Applaud Lawmaker for Putting Patients First

PRINCETON, N.J., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthcare organizations today applauded N.J. Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union) for sponsoring legislation that will improve access to behavioral health services and ease excessively long waits for these vulnerable patients.

Surveys have shown that N.J. patients have waited up to a week in hospital emergency departments awaiting transfer to an appropriate behavioral health program. (see below.)

Cryan's package of three bills is scheduled for a vote today in the state Assembly. The package has received strong support from the New Jersey Hospital Association and the New Jersey chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

"Behavioral health patients all too often end up in hospital Emergency Departments, victims of a disjointed system and inadequate specialty services for their unique needs," said Dr. Bruce Bonanno, president of NJ-ACEP. "With all due respect to the dedicated professionals in our Emergency Departments, this is no place for this fragile population. These patients deserve prompt access to specialized inpatient programs and state facilities to give them the right care in the right setting."

NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan joined Dr. Bonanno in supporting the bills. She cited the results of an NJHA survey of emergency departments across the state, which revealed exceedingly long waits for patients awaiting transfer to a behavioral health program.

"The results of our survey were astounding and disturbing," said Ryan. "We routinely saw patients waiting days at a time -- sometimes nearly a week -- awaiting a transfer. We must find remedies to keep these patients from becoming virtual boarders in our state's emergency departments."

Survey Reveals Long Waits for Patients

NJHA's survey,
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SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association
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