Proposal to curb ER visits due

Dec 31, 2012

PROVIDENCE, RI - Monday is the deadline for Rhode Island's Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals to come up with a proposal to address a sticky problem: substance abusers who frequently end up in the emergency room.

The General Assembly passed a law earlier this year convening a special committee to study ER admission rates among alcoholics and drug addicts. And it requires the group to come up with a list of solutions by the end of this year. Department director Craig Stenning says one proposal will be creating an alternative to the emergency room for substance abusers to sober up. But that's not all.

"We will probably issue, if the General Assembly accepts the report, either one or a number of requests for interest from a variety of agencies to put together a comprehensive package of services, rather than just saying we're going to move from Rhode Island Hospital to a different location, and just recreate the same problem at a new location," said Stenning.

Stenning says those services would include addiction treatment, housing, and possibly job training. He says the next challenge will be getting the proposal funded, but over time such programs could save the state money.

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