This is such a sad and impossible story. This man obviously wanted help and was worried about his mental state. Unfortunately, when the ER is the choice for treatment, mental health issues may be missed or overlooked because this type of hospital unit is set up to deal with trauma and medical emergencies. It is true that ER physicians are able to assess for mental health issues, but when every bed is full and the waiting room is standing space only, how can you blame the hospital employees for trying to do a quick fix and get people moving out of the ER. The ER is not the family doctor, nor is it where you go to get your appointments made. That said, I still find this story to be horrible and sad.
I don’t know about the state of mental healthcare in North Carolina as I have never been there. I do know that mental health beds are being lost all across the country due to budget cuts. This is just one of many stories that highlight the need for improved access and more availability for mental health treatment.
by RAD BERKY / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Rad: RBerky@WCNC.com
Posted on April 5, 2010 at 6:11 PM
Updated Monday, Apr 5 at 6:31 PM
* He saw shadows. He was angry. He wanted help.
* DSS got call on Chapmans in September
* Hours before killings, Chapman treated at hospital
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The beds in the county’s psychiatric ward at Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph have been at capacity for a year and a half.
There were more than 1,200 visits to CMC-Randolph’s emergency room in February alone.
One of those who came for help just last month, according to the Charlotte Observer, was Ken Chapman. Then, last week, police discovered Chapman killed his wife, two children and then himself.
The mental health director of the hospital said she could not talk about Chapman or any other patient.
“There are very strict confidentiality laws that prohibit us from ever acknowledging that someone has gotten mental health treatment,” said Grayce Crockett.
The Observer says medical records from March 16 indicate Chapman did visit the emergency room and was asked on a form why he had come in that day. “Harm someone,” the Observer says Chapman wrote.
The Observer says Chapman was later given medication for depression and anxiety and left. Later that day is when police believe he killed members of his family.
Speaking only in general terms, Crockett said sometimes people who come in for help change their mind about needing that help.
“The emergency room physician has to make their best judgment at the time, based on what the individual is telling them,” Crockett said.
Jennifer Roberts, chairwoman of the Mecklenburg County Commission, said the county is providing better psychiatric help than many other counties, even though the budget has suffered a $5 million cut from the state in the current fiscal year.
“In the coming fiscal year, we really want to tell the state please don’t take any more away,” Roberts said.
Here’s the link to the original article; there is a video there that I hope you will watch also.
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