UCLA opens California's first adolescent psychiatric ER


Torrance, Calif.-based Harbor-UCLA Medical Center opened a $7.3 million expansion project Feb. 7 to create an emergency room space designed for teens who need psychiatric care, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The 5,600-square-foot ER is the first of its kind for adolescents on the West Coast and will allow the medical center to increase its psychiatric patient volume by 40 percent, hospital officials say, while providing a safer space where those patients can be treated. The hospital's psychiatric ER has grown overcrowded in recent years.

 "The number of adolescents who require emergency mental health services has increased dramatically over the past several years and their suicide rate is climbing faster than for any other age group," said Ira Lesser, MD, chair of psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

The old Harbor-UCLA psychiatric ER, which is part of one of the region's busiest public hospitals, saw over 5,200 patients last year. The new ER includes adult seclusion and holding rooms, interview triage rooms with private access and safe exits, more nursing stations and a locked area for treating adolescents.

"This new, dedicated adolescent psychiatric emergency room will allow us to put into practice clinical interventions that are specific to this age group that will help avoid hospitalization and move these kids into community-based care," Dr. Lesser said.

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