'Comes down to funding priorities': Kids stuck in Michigan EDs awaiting mental health care

Morgan Haefner - Print  | 

Like those across the nation, hospital emergency departments in Michigan are seeing a significant increase in pediatric patients who require mental health treatment but can't access an open psychiatric bed, according to WXYZ Detroit

The state is short about 100 beds to care for children in psychiatric crises, according to the report. Robert Nykamp, vice president and COO at Pine Rest Hospital, told the news station that while his hospital is more than a two-hour drive from Detroit, the Grand Rapids-based facility sees families make the trip because it's often the only available bed in the state.

Michigan's psychiatric bed shortage "simply comes down to funding priorities," Mr. Nykamp told WXYZ Detroit. "We're choosing to use that money on other areas instead of this. And I think those are the wrong choices right now."

Nationwide, hospitals saw a 24 percent increase from April to October 2020 in the proportion of mental health ED visits for kids ages 5 to 11, according to data from the Children's Hospital Association. That increase is even higher for kids ages 12 to 17, at 31 percent.

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