Cole Weatherby, D.O.
Moontower Mental Wellness, PLLC
Finally, Austin gets a Psychiatric Emergency Room!
by Dr. Cole Weatherby on May 1st, 2014

I have to say I thought this day would never come. Austin is one of the greatest cities in the United States (IMHO) and one of the weakest in mental health resources. One of the key areas in which we have been lacking is in emergency mental health resources. For the past decades, those in the midst of a mental health crisis were often stashed in an emergency room for days awaiting a psychiatric inpatient bed, or made to endure the long and stressful process of navigating the admissions department of an inpatient psychiatric hospital-- which are nearly always at or exceeding capacity. Wait times could be more than 8-10 hours in some cases, and in the instance that you didn't need inpatient care, but had a serious psychiatric issue that required attention, there was no help available to you unless you already had a psychiatrist who was always on call (a rarity this day and time). 

So, I rejoice at the news that on April 29th, 2014 Seton opened a psychiatric emergency room at University Medical Center Brackenridge. Now, if you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, you can simply go to Brackenridge (located at 601 E. 15th St.), get on the elevator to the 2nd floor and step right up to the Psych ED intake window. AND, this is not just a way for people to get into an inpatient psychiatric hospital, though that might happen if necessary. Patients in the Psych ED will be triaged, evaluated and in many cases treated and discharged home. It remains to be seen how smoothly this process will work, and one can certainly expect it may take time before the Psych ED becomes a "well-oiled machine" of delivering healthcare. But, Seton seems very motivated to make this a top-notch facility.

For those of you who have faced the nightmare that is a psychiatric crisis, I think you can rest a bit easier knowing that this resource is available. Austin has had nothing like it, and getting psychiatric help has been an arduous, frightening and sometimes traumatizing experience. This seems to be a big step in the right direction. I encourage you to share this news with others so that more people in Austin and surrounding areas know that there is a place to get this kind of help if one is in need.

BTW, I have no financial relationship whatsoever with Seton or Brackenridge. I am a sometimes lecturer and psychotherapy supervisor to some of the psychiatry residents who work at that facility.

Here are some links to news stories:

KXAN

Community Impact

Seton

More on this to follow once I get a look at the Psych ED first hand.


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