The Modesto Bee reports that “California children seeking mental health care following crises often face days-long waits in emergency departments before being sent to a mental health care facility up to a hundred miles away.”

Emergency departments are becoming the first stops for families seeking mental health attention for their children.  This is due to the fact that before being able to be transferred to a psychiatric hospital, they need a medical screening and an evaluation of their mental health.

Madelyn Schlaepfer, director of mental health in Stanislaus County, notes that not only is the wait for a medical attention long, the kids often have to go to an out of county facility in areas such as Bakersfield or Southern California for care. Schlaepfer also noted that “children can suffer trauma caused by the delays in care and long ambulance rides to treatment centers.” Additionally, the children can be placed in adjoining confines with adults exhibiting psychotic symptoms.

In hopes of improving these conditions, Schlaepfer states the county is using “crisis intervention as a way to reduce hospitalizations for children.” Stanislaus County is working with Doctors Medical Center for this crisis intervention plan. Such intervention would include assessments and medications to stabilize conditions as well as providing parents with educational resources to hopefully prevent another crisis. These developments will largely benefit uninsured families and those under Medi-Cal coverage.

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