Supreme Court’s Ban on warehousing mentally ill comes into Effect

Supreme Court’s Ban on warehousing mentally ill comes into Effect

The state Supreme Court's ban on warehousing of detained mental patients has come into effect. State officials and other hope that the practice known as psychiatric boarding will come to an end with the scores of new beds added in the past few months.

The state's high court said in August that individualized care is not being provided by following the practice of detaining and holding patients temporarily in settings such as emergency rooms. The court also said that it was a violation of state law.

The state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) said that there are now 152 more psychiatric beds than what was there during the time of the court's decision in August, with more than 30 being added since November.

Jane Beyer, assistant secretary for behavioral health and service integration for DSHS, said that they have got the capacity they needed there. According to Beyer, there were no significant problems reported Friday when the court order brought the ban in effect.

Rural areas still don't have enough beds. As a result, some patients will be transported to facilities in Western Washington. The warehousing of patients occurs when psychiatric patients are forcibly detained by authorities for treatment without having the beds available for proper care.

Patients have waited for days under psychiatric boarding and sometimes months in hospital emergency departments or other medical rooms.

Mike De Felice, civil commitment supervisor for King County, said it is always better to send mental-health workers to stabilize a person having a psychotic episode in a household. Usually, police have to respond and detain that person, which does not make sense.

"If we can get the police to be aware of that option, they can then save the person from getting involuntarily committed. I think there's still reluctance on certain folks to divert people there", said De Felice.

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