Welcome!

News Feed Item

Cambridge Health Alliance to Close Psychiatric Emergency Unit Compromising the Care of Those with Acute Mental Illness

Decision Comes at a Time of Critical Shortage for Mental Health Services in the State, According to the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a time when there is a critical shortage of mental health services and more than 40,000 patients a year are boarding in our state's hospital emergency departments for days and even weeks, Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) has announced plans to close its highly regarded, and highly utilized, psychiatric emergency services unit (PES) - a move nurses and mental health advocates believe will decimate the quality and safety of care for psychiatric patients who are in crisis.

Massachusetts Nurses Association logo

Located on the CHA's Cambridge Hospital campus, the PES is a unique unit that depends on skilled RNs and staff members to provide specialized care to those with mental illness. This practice stands in sharp contrast to how psychiatric patients are treated at most other hospitals in the state where, instead, they are simply boarded in overcrowded emergency departments with little or no immediate access to comprehensive care.

Specialized services offered by the PES include 24-hour care for people in severe behavioral and emotional distress; care to people of all ages from across the entire Greater Boston region and beyond; a full range of comprehensive emergency evaluations, interventions, and referrals; psychiatrists on duty 24-hours a day to help manage all acute mental health emergencies; medication assessment and management; and referral and admission services. Additionally, the actual unit - as well as how it is managed - was created with the unique needs of crisis-afflicted mental health patients in mind.

"The unit's rooms are all private and are entirely contained," described Lyons-Connors. "All access doors are secured with multiple locks and are monitored through a variety of fashions; any and all items that could be used as weapons to self-harm are completely removed; noise and distractions are controlled so that a patient's situation isn't worsened by overstimulation; and the RNs and staff who work on the unit are experts at providing the kind of unique, specialized care that these patients require."

According to CHA's web site, the hospital will cease operations on the unit on June 4, 2014, at which point, "the PES will move down the hall into the [regular] Emergency Department at the Cambridge Hospital Campus … All patients seeking emergency care should go to the main entrance of the ED, which is in the Cambridge Hospital lobby." In addition, the hospital also plans to lay off all of the unit's psychiatric nurses, social workers, and milieu counselors - a move that will 1) leave the hospital depending more on its public safety officers and 2) will likely lead to an increase in the use of restraints with patients suffering an acute mental health emergency.

"The hospital views this as nothing more than a simple merger of the two units that provide emergency services," said Ellen Lyons-Connors, a registered nurse who has worked on the unit for more than 15 years. "But the truth is, elimination of the PES represents the total loss of a specialized unit that was created with the unique needs of the area's mentally ill in mind."

The hospital's announcement just barely preceded "Mental Health Advocacy Day," an annual event coordinated by the Massachusetts office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). As part of its early-April "Advocacy Day" efforts, NAMI released a corresponding report that quantified just how much decimation the commonwealth's fragile mental health system has sustained recently:

  • After slashing its mental health budget in 2009, Massachusetts now ranks last in percent growth for mental health funding out of all of the New England states.
  • There has been a 40 percent decrease in the number of public beds available for mental health patients since 2005.
  • This reduction in beds/services has been a key reason as to why more than 40,000 psychiatric patients are needlessly boarded in hospital emergency department beds annually.

"If closure of the PES goes forward, patients and their families will suffer unnecessarily," said Jo Ann Emerald, a longtime PES RN. "Waiting times will be longer, assessments will take longer, and medication delivery will take longer. At best, this will leave psych patients who are in crisis languishing in a general ED that is too open and too dangerous. At worst, it will lead to increased violence by patients. Either way, it is wrong."

"It isn't like there are a lot of options for these patients," added Lyons-Connors. "There's nowhere left to go. The beds at other hospitals are gone and the services everywhere else have been slashed. Cambridge is just the latest in a long line of hospitals that are willing to sacrifice the needs of the mentally ill all in the name of cost savings."

MNA RNs, other hospital staff members and local mental health advocacy organizations have all announced their commitment to fighting the proposed closure. Grassroots organizing initiatives, including a petition campaign, are underway. Visit MassNurses.org for details.

Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest professional health care organization and the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public. The MNA is a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest national nurses union in the United States with more than 170,000 members from coast to coast.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20060525/NETH016LOGO

SOURCE Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Twistlock, the leading provider of cloud container security solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Twistlock is the industry's first enterprise security suite for container security. Twistlock's technology addresses risks on the host and within the application of the container, enabling enterprises to consistently enforce security policies, monitor...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and valu...
This talk centers around how to automate best practices in a multi-/hybrid-cloud world based on our work with customers like GE, Discovery Communications and Fannie Mae. Today’s enterprises are reaping the benefits of cloud computing, but also discovering many risks and challenges. In the age of DevOps and the decentralization of IT, it’s easy to over-provision resources, forget that instances are running, or unintentionally expose vulnerabilities.
Everywhere we turn in our industry we can find strong opinions about the direction, type and nature of cloud’s impact on computing and business. Another word that is used in every context in our industry is “hybrid.” In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Alvaro Gonzalez, Director of Technical, Partner and Field Marketing at Peak 10, will use a combination of a few conceptual props and some research recently commissioned by Peak 10 to offer a real-world consideration of how the various categories of...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, David Martin, Principal Product Owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how to ov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.