California hospital CEO: Staff, patients endangered by 'mental health crisis' in community

The CEO of Sutter Coast Hospital has called out the county's Department of Health and Human Services and the sheriff's office for contributing to a local mental health crisis, according to a March 24 article published in Wild Rivers Outpost.

Crescent City, Calif.-based Sutter Coast Hospital CEO Mitch Hanna said an overwhelming amount of mental health patients have been checked into the hospital's emergency department. Some of the mental health patients were brought to the hospital on an involuntary psychiatric hold because they had been deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The county is unable or unwilling to provide support to find these patients a better situation, Mr. Hanna told the Outpost. The closest contracted mental health facility is about five hours away, the article said. The director of the county HHS acknowledged that there is a shortage of appropriate facilities for mental health patients in the state.

"We have six psych patients out of nine patients in our ER," Mr. Hanna told Del Norte County supervisors, the Outpost reported. "There is a mental health crisis in our county and it is causing a harmful and potentially dangerous situation at Sutter Coast Hospital."

Mr. Hanna said these patients present a danger to his staff and the hospital's other patients. Due to this, the hospital staff has less time to tend to those who need acute care. There is also a high cost associated with using emergency department staff as caregivers for these patients, Mr. Hanna said.

Becker's Hospital Review reached out to Sutter Coast Hospital for comment, and a spokesperson said they didn't have anything additional to share.

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