Emergency rooms feel the pinch

People in psychiatric crisis increasingly are landing in the state’s emergency rooms again and again. But not only do emergency rooms often lack space for these patients—they’re also not good environments for them.

“If you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, being in the ER is the worst place” says Carmela Coyle, CEO of the California Hospital Association.

Yet people in psychiatric crisis often wind up in the ER because they’re not getting treated elsewhere.

“Practically speaking, the emergency rooms of hospitals and jails are where people are taken for treatment, which is all wrong,” says Judge Stephen Manley, who started one of the nation’s first mental health courts in Santa Clara County more than 20 years ago. “The emergency room has no room for them and jails do not have expertise.”