New York City agencies will provide treatment to homeless people who appear to be in a "psychiatric crisis," even if they refuse treatment—in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
- District of Columbia: The national mental health emergency hotline came back online shortly after a daylong outage earlier this month. During the outage, individuals trying to reach the 988 hotline for assistance with mental health crises heard a message that said the line was "experiencing a service outage." The service was restored just before midnight on Dec. 1. According to HHS spokesperson Sarah Lovenheim, the federal government is investigating the hotline's outage. "While HHS and [Veterans Affairs] immediately acted to provide support to 988 callers via text, chat, and alternate numbers, the disruption of phone service was unacceptable, and HHS continues to investigate the root cause of the outage," Lovenheim tweeted. (AP/"Transformation Hub," Modern Healthcare, 12/2)
- New York: New York City Mayor Eric Adams last month announced an initiative to address a "mental health crisis" among the city's homeless population. Adams has directed city agencies, including the fire, police, and health departments, to assess and provide care to homeless people who seem to be in a "psychiatric crisis" on the city's streets and subways—even if they do not pose an immediate risk to the public. "If severe mental illness is causing someone to be unsheltered and a danger to themselves, we have a moral obligation to help them get the treatment and care they need," Adams said. "My administration is determined to do more to assist people with mental illness, especially those with untreated psychotic disorders, posing a risk of harm to themselves, even if they are not an imminent threat to the public," he added. "It is not acceptable for us to see someone who clearly needs help and walk past. For too long, there has been a gray area where policy, law and accountability have not been clear and this has allowed people in need to slip through the cracks." (Ansari, Wall Street Journal, 11/29; Calvan, Associated Press, 11/29; Linton, CBS News, 11/29)
- Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) last week announced that construction had begun on the $27 million Lehigh Valley Hospital-Macungie complex, which will include a 22,194-square-foot hospital and a 10,182-square-foot office building. The "neighborhood hospital," which will be in Lower Macungie, will include 11 emergency beds and 10 inpatient beds. The facility is expected to open by the end of next year. According to LVHN, the hospital is projected to create between 50 to 60 new jobs and the medical office to create 75 to 100. LVHN CEO Brian Nester said the health system plans to build additional "neighborhood hospitals," which operate as a middle ground between the system's urgent care clinics and larger acute-care hospitals, Nester said. (Schwartz, Becker's Hospital CFO Report, 12/5)