Mississippi hospital loses Critical Access Hospital designation; closes

From the Times:

Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton will close Dec. 1 after losing a key federal funding status, becoming the fourth Mississippi hospital to close since 2013.

Critical access hospitals, unless certified before 2006, must be at least 35 miles from other hospitals, or at least 15 miles on secondary roads. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had previously been paying the Newton hospital under the formula. However the federal agency notified Pioneer on Nov. 12, 2014, that it didn’t meet the distance requirement for critical access, saying hospitals in Forest and Meridian were too close. Lackey Memorial Hospital in Forest is also run by Pioneer.

Decreased Funding For Mental Health Services Results in Crowded, Strained Emergency Rooms

From Medical Research:

Patients with severe mental illness are a distinct demographic in the emergency department. Unfortunately, resources to help these vulnerable patients are frequently the target of funding cuts. We aimed to describe the effect of these cuts on our emergency department and the care provided to our patients. In this study we evaluated data from before our county mental health facility cut its inpatient capacity by half and closed its outpatient unit, and compared this data with data collected after this closure. We found that the mean number of daily psychiatric consultations in our emergency department more than tripled and that the average length of stay for these patients increased by nearly eight hours. These two data combined demonstrate a five-fold increase in daily emergency department bed hours for psychiatric patients, placing a significant strain on the emergency department and demonstrating a delay in definitive care provided to these vulnerable patients.

Alcohol-affected patients at emergency departments ‘more disruptive than those on ice’, researcher says

From ABC:

The study conducted by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine monitored eight emergency departments across Australia and New Zealand over a week last December, screening around 10,000 patients.

It found that during peak drinking times, such as the weekend, up to one in eight patients were at hospital because of alcohol related injuries or medical conditions. During the week it was one in 12.

She said the study also found that alcohol-affected patients were more likely to require urgent resuscitation, and arrive by ambulance and with police.

“One drunk person can disrupt an entire emergency department. They are often violent and aggressive, make staff feel unsafe and impact negatively on the care of other patients,” Associate Professor Warburton said.

Higher deductibles meant to discourage county employees from ER visits

From the Gazette-Mail:

The emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital was dead quiet at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday. The rows of chairs were vacant, the only people inside were two security guards.

On Thursday, the Kanawha County Commission voted to raise county employees’ insurance deductible on emergency room visits from $50 to $100 in attempts to help keep it that way.

Last year, the county spent $949,941 on emergency room expenses for its employees. The commission is hoping that with a higher deductible, some people who are going to the emergency room for things they probably shouldn’t be, like the flu, will be deterred and will opt for an urgent care or primary care physician instead, both of which are cheaper than an emergency room visit.