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Safety Changes Coming to GBMC ED

June 17, 2019
Behavioral and mental health is a growing and dynamic challenge within healthcare, and our community is no exception. A subset of this community – psychiatric patients – are being admitted to our Emergency Department at a steady rate, residing in our ED for days (sometimes weeks) at a time. Because of limited resources for in-patient treatment and the current shortage of community-based facilities to transfer them to, GBMC physicians and nursing staff are constantly challenged to treat the scope of traditional emergencies others in our community are facing.

Thanks to a generous gift from the Fancy Hill Foundation, our Emergency Department will now be equipped with the resources needed to not only optimize the care we provide but also improve the response time for our non-crisis patients awaiting care. It won't be an overnight fix, but it will fundamentally address both population's needs.

"Fancy Hill recognizes the need for mental health awareness at home and in the community at large," said Sarah Johnson from Fancy Hill Foundation. "We hope that through our family’s support we can help chip away at the societal stigmas often associated with mental illness, highlight Baltimore’s need for future growth and expansion in both research and care, and help usher in a new era of both acceptance and care. Without acceptance, there is no change."

Mental health is only in the beginning of a renaissance, bringing into the limelight the dedicated, comprehensive attention needed to treat patients. With a decrease in state psychiatric facility beds due to closures and an increase in the mental health population, it is imperative we seek innovative ways to care for these patients in a safe, collaborative fashion.

Fancy Hill Foundation's support will fund roll-down safety doors, the education of nurses and physicians, and a team of full-time psychiatric nurses to support these patients 24/7.

Currently, a room must be physically dismantled for crisis patients' safety – including oxygen, suction, cables, computer and patient care equipment. There is a significant delay when turning over the room due to re-assembly of equipment. Roll-down doors, which will be provided by local company, Overhead Door, allow us to physically keep essential patient care equipment within the room, behind the safety of a pull-down door, and allow for ease of access during changeover.

In addition, the development of a Behavioral Health Simulation training program equips staff with real-world scenarios and best practices, and provides specialized training for physicians in the care of behavioral health patients. The addition of a full-time nurse specializing in psychiatric patients will combat burnout and fatigue experienced by nurses in the Emergency Department who, while caring and compassionate individuals, are not equipped with the knowledge and expertise to provide optimal care for mental health patients.

These improvements will help to serve all Emergency Department patients with the best care possible as we work toward a more substantial, long-term plan to jointly advocate with Sheppard Pratt Health System for a redesign of the mental health system for the State of Maryland within a three to five-year timeframe.

The support of the Fancy Hill Foundation and others in the community have enabled us to quickly adapt to changing patient needs, serving all patients with the best care possible.

For more information on our Emergency Department or what we are doing to treat behavioral and mental health stigmas and diagnoses, please contact Director of Corporate Relations, Beth Fenwick Garner, at 443-849-4328 or egarner@gbmc.org.

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