Commission seeks alternatives to ER care for mentally ill

PROVIDENCE, RI – The emergency room isn't always the best place to treat Rhode Islanders with mental health or addiction problems. That's the premise of a new senate commission, meeting for the first time Wednesday. Members are looking for less expensive, and more effective alternatives.

Co-chair Senator Josh Miller says this topic first came up during a senate commission on how to reduce hospital costs.

"There was a lot of anecdotal discussion of people ending up in emergency rooms who would benefit from diversion," Miller says.

Miller says treating mental health patients in the emergency room not only costs more money, it's often disruptive and less effective than other approaches. The senate commission will work to make it easier for Rhode Islanders to get the psychological attention they need in a more appropriate setting.

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