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BCMH to Upgrade Emergency Psych Services

Baraga County Memorial Hospital is expanding its ability to deal with patients with potential psychological problems.

At last night’s county board of commissioners meeting, hospital Chief Executive Officer Rob Stowe explained that they’re seeing an increase in people who need behavioral health care at the emergency room. He outlined two steps the hospital is taking.

The first is the establishment of a ”sitter” program…

When we have a behavioral patient, and an emergency department physician deems it necessary, we will activate a “sitter,” which is an employee of BCMH, to come and sit with the patient.

That’s a role that has, up until now, been filled by sheriff’s deputies, which has caused a strain on law enforcement staff.

The second step is the addition of a 24/7 psychiatric telehealth consulting service…

At the touch of a button, we’ll have a board-certified psychiatrist available to help do the assessments, or should this patent be in need of an inpatient setting, or possibly for medication management help, as well.

Stowe hopes the AVEL consulting service will be in place within the next 60 to 90 days.

BCMH CEO Rob Stowe addresses the Baraga County Board.

Private psychiatric treatment beds continue to be at a premium. Stowe said patients have had to be held in the emergency department for as many as eight days before a placement could be found. In one recent case, the hospital social worker called 41 downstate facilities before finding a place to send a patient for treatment.

In other business at last night’s meeting, the board saluted Pam Anderson on her retirement as director of the Baragaland Senior Citizens Center. Board members noted that she had been with the organization for some three dozen years. Veteran staffer Nancy Haanpaa is taking over the leadership role.

Commissioners appointed Dr. Abigail Prentice and Dr. Jeff Sweers from the Baraga County Memorial Hospital staff to serve as deputy medical examiners.

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