A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Too Acute?

Too Acute?

October 28, 2010

If the scenario sounds like a nightmare, it’s only because it is one.

Imagine you are the parent of a child with significant mental health needs. One night, your child tells you that he is hearing voices. Soon thereafter, he no longer recognizes you or his siblings. Clearly, a crisis situation.

You rush your child to the emergency room, internally breathing a sigh of relief, expecting help to be coming soon.

Instead, there you sit for hours.

For a day.

For two days.

All the while waiting with your child.

In a locked room.

Not getting help.

Being told that your child can’t be admitted because his condition is “too acute” for the hospital to deal with.

In recent months, the Parent / Professional Advocacy League (PAL) has heard stories similar to this one across the state. Last week, they wrote to EOHHS Secretary Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, asking her to look into the issue. This morning, the Boston Globe wrote about one family’s story.

Health Care For All is an executive committee member (along with PAL, Children’s Hospital Boston, MSPCC, and Health Law Advocates) of the Children’s Mental Health Campaign, an advocacy coalition made up of more than 130 member organizations across the state dedicated to improving the children’s mental health system in Massachusetts.

One of the Campaign’s most significant achievements to date is the passage and enactment of Chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008, An Act Relative To Children’s Mental Health. Among the law’s provisions is an attempt to reduce the number of “stuck kids” – those who unnecessarily remain in inpatient treatment settings when they are ready to return to the community.

Although we have been successful in bringing these numbers down, the Globe article shows that we still have a long way to go before we can claim victory in totally reforming the children’s mental health system.

The work of the Campaign continues. If you are interested in learning more, or getting involved, visit the Campaign’s website.

The time is NOW to make real changes and address these issues.
-Matt Noyes