The USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, a major California hospital. (Photo: TonelsonProductions, via Shutterstock)
Last year during the winter’s peak, hospitals in the state had an estimated 54,000 patients, with roughly 22,000 of them testing Covid positive. Today, similar numbers reflect the hospitals’ overcrowding. But now, there is an overall 20 percent reduction in health care workers, and the combination of the two has seriously stressed hospitals.
A suspect in custody, handcuffed by police. (Photo: Boyfare, via Shutterstock)
Police response to mental-health calls often ends – again and again – in chaotic, noisy hospital emergency rooms, where staff is stretched thin, and a heart attack is likely to take precedence over someone in the throes of a mental-health crisis. “Traditionally, people would be dropped off at the ER, and the only option was to transfer them to a psychiatric facility,” says Dr. Scott Zeller, a nationally known emergency psychiatrist and former president of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry.