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The veterans hospital explains its role in the mental health system.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Better communication among mental health officials in the region and across the state has enabled those in crisis to get the care they need without being shuffled from place to place, a process that is inefficient for caregivers and frightening for those seeking help.
There’s room for improvement, and leaders at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem took the initiative last week to explain their role in the mental health system and to seek suggestions for how they can better serve the region.
The hospital hosted a summit for mental health professionals, nonprofits, law enforcement and other organizations. The VA is itself a major player in the mental health system, providing treatment to about 10,000 veterans annually, mostly through outpatient services.
A handful of veterans receive inpatient care there after they have been formally committed, but the hospital is not set up to accept individuals who periodically show up at its door without the evaluations necessary for admission.
Regional officials have already gotten better at handling demand, conversing daily so that everyone knows how many beds are available and where, and stepping up crisis intervention services to reduce the need for inpatient care.
The VA’s summit contributed to that overall effort, and hospital officials hope to hold another in the future. Their willingness to be part of a team effort benefits everyone.
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