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Ellis Medicine aids patients in crisis

Almost half of emergency department users in the U.S. have a mental health diagnosis. Instead of receiving care in behavioral health settings, patients with mental illness often seek care in medical care settings, such as EDs; consequently, patients usually leave without the appropriate treatment, incurring unnecessary costs, as do providers. In 2018, Ellis Medicine initiated a program to reduce ED-based treatment for its behavioral health patients, improving their healthcare access and quality while reducing costs.

Ellis Medicine’s outpatient mental health facility opened a crisis diversion service called The Living Room. Within a comfortable and calming home-like environment, the program offers assessment, supportive therapy and referral to community resources from noon to 8 p.m. weekdays. Ellis and Rehabilitation Support Services jointly operate The Living Room with referrals coming from mental health, addiction, housing and other community agencies. Grant funds came from the state and Alliance for Better Health, the local Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program Performing Provider System.

The Living Room serves an average of 32 guests each month who self-report their distress level — which has declined nearly 30%. Guests are linked to care management (25%), mental health services (41%) and primary care (63%). Savings exceed $26,000 per month; guests average only 1.3 monthly behavioral health ED visits. Nearly 90% of guests were insured through Medicaid and/or Medicare.

For more information, contact Mary May, clinical manager, at (518) 831-6921 or at maym@ellismedicine.org.