SECTION 1. Chapter 19 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section at the end thereof: -
There shall be, on the campus of Taunton State Hospital, a Behavioral Health Emergency Department Relief Pilot Program to accept medically stable, high acuity behavioral health and dual diagnosis patients from emergency departments in the Southeast region. Medically stable patients presenting in an Emergency Department with a high acuity behavioral health condition or who have a dual diagnosis should be transferred to this pilot program if another appropriate setting cannot be located within four hours of admission to the emergency department. Patients admitted to the pilot program will be cared for until an appropriate placement is found that meets the patients’ needs, which shall be no more than fourteen days following admission to the pilot program. The program shall be operated by the department and staffed by the department’s registered nurses, psychiatrists and other staff needed to provide appropriate care, with program protocols and a staffing plan to be developed during the first six months following passage of this legislation by a committee including the department, the department of public health, the national alliance on mental illness, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the emergency nurses association. For the purposes of this pilot program, Taunton State Hospital shall be allowed to accept patients classified under Section 12 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws. The pilot program shall operate for a period of two years, with a report to be filed by the department with the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse during year two of the program, to evaluate the success of the program in decreasing emergency department overcrowding in the Southeast Region, and the quality of care provided in the program. The report shall be drafted by an independent entity, utilizing data from the department and the local hospitals in the Southeast Region.
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