Imagine a healing approach to mental health care where people in crisis receive expert treatment tailored to their needs in a calming environment – instead of a loud, potentially chaotic emergency department (ED).
That’s the idea behind our new Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment, and Healing (EmPATH) program, which will launch in early 2021 with the opening of Minnesota’s first EmPATH unit at Southdale Hospital.
Nationally, 1 in 8 ED visits involves mental health issues or substance use. All people arriving at an ED are usually triaged in the same way. For people experiencing a mental health crisis, the time spent waiting for care in an ED can feel especially stressful or traumatic.
In an EmPATH unit, arriving mental health patients go through medical screening before entering a safe, therapeutic, living room-style area with rapid access to the support they need to stabilize their situation. This includes specialized care from psychiatrists, mental health nurses, therapists, and other trained mental health professionals who will work with each patient to identify needs, administer medications, and begin appropriate treatment and healing.
Once the patient has received the urgent care they need, our professionals will partner with that person and their support network to create an ongoingplan, which means everyone will leave knowing the next steps in their care. Our providers will also help patients connect directly with follow-up outpatient care programs, removing the burden of patients having to make those calls on their own. This compassionate approach can reduce unnecessary inpatient or hospital admissions.
In addition to easy access to urgent mental healthcare, EmPATH units will offer an open design with natural lighting, comfortable seating, and private sensory rooms. Our relaxed EmPATH spaces can also be used for meetings with the patient’s family members or others.
Launching our EmPATH program is part of our commitment to providing a full spectrum of mental health services for Minnesotans. Fairview is the largest mental health care provider in the Upper Midwest.
Though inpatient care will remain a major component of our services, EmPATH is yet another way we can meet the needs of patients in a setting and with a schedule that is less disruptive to their lives.
“Our industry’s approach to mental health care leaves too many people in crisis and without a long-term plan to improve mental health,” said Beth Heinz, the Behavioral Health Service Line executive. “We are disrupting the status quo for emergency mental health care by introducing the state’s first EmPATH units. This will provide a care option for urgent mental health needs that is more patient-friendly and patient-centered than emergency rooms.”