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lp county tackling mental health

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 16:23 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd would rather have his deputies on the streets instead of hours away, in some cases, tending to people declared a mental health emergency by the courts.

Since early December, Boyd said there's been a ''dramatic uptick'' in the number of emergency detentions ordered by the courts.

But, with bed space for inpatient psychiatric care lacking here, Boyd said patients often have to be driven to facilities in South Bend and even as far away as Ft. Wayne and Bloomington.

At least two of his deputies must accompany each patient, meaning fewer officers working patrols while they're away sometimes for their entire shifts because of extended travel times, he said.

Over the past four-months, Boyd reported 13 individuals under a court ordered 72 hour emergency detention were transported elsewhere from hospitals in Michigan City and LaPorte for psychiatric care.

''It's extremely manpower intensive for us,'' said Boyd.

He and a wide range of elected officials and other decision makers discussed the issue at length April 6 during a workshop.

State Representative Jim Pressel ® Rolling Prairie said nine more psychiatric units are planned across the state under a bill adopted by the House during this year's state legislative session.

Their specific locations have not been decided.

''The goal right now is to get facilities within an hour of just about anywhere,'' Pressel said.

LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the shortage of beds for emergency psychiatric care has been a problem here for several years.

Kora said LaPorte Hospital, which used to have a psychiatric unit, will be asked to establish one at the new hospital it plans to start building this year.

Franciscan St. Anthony Health will also be approached for more beds at its new hospital going up along Interstate 94 than what it provides now for psychiatric care at its current location, Kora said.

Kora said more beds will also mean keeping emergency detention patients here if they have a relapse.

Right now, Kora said patients at outside facilities are brought back after the 72-hour emergency detention period expires but have to be returned after a relapse.

He said the annual cost to taxpayers from such inefficiency is in the ''hundreds of thousands of dollars.''

''It's an extreme waste of resources. We should be taking care of them here with adequate outpatient follow up,'' Kora said.
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