LSU Health Shreveport working with SPD on crisis response system

(Source: KSLA)
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - LSU Health Shreveport is working with Shreveport police on the department’s crisis response system.

“I work in the hospital at Ochsner LSU, mostly in the emergency room,” said Dr. James Patterson, chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “I do what’s called emergency psychiatry and have been doing that off and on for the last 22 years.”

Patterson spoke to the Shreveport City council last Tuesday, saying over the years he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of psychiatry patients coming into the ER over the last two decades.

“I basically shows you in the year 2000, we were seeing maybe 3, 4 or 5 patients a day. Now, on any given day, it’s 20 plus patients. Right now, our ER is seeing 20 to 25 patients a day,” he said.

Patterson said although the number of psychiatric patients coming into he hospitals is increasing, the population in our area is decreasing.

“It’s not more people moving into the city or parish, it’s just more sick people coming to the ER,” he said. “So, what’s driving this? Well, for the most part it’s the Shreveport police that are driving them [patients] to the ER. It’s keeping our police force really busy. Our people are sicker, and our society and culture is really suffering.”

At the council meeting, Patterson showed 911 call stats, documenting many calls are mental health related: around 50 percent.

“So that’s a huge part of what we have to take care of in the city,” he said. “Taking care of my people. My patients.”

Patterson says first responders have limited resources when it comes to those calls.

“They can either take them to jail or take them to see me,” he said. “Some of them go back and forth. What we really need is more options to keep them off the streets, to keep them out of jail and out of my ER. We are all overwhelmed and its is getting worse and worse. The demand definitely exceeds the supply.”

Patterson says Louisiana is currently rolling out a crisis response system that LSU Health Shreveport is going to be apart of, but he says there are several limitations to the system.

“The folks that are involved and will use this crisis response system will have to be voluntary and most of ours are not,” he said. “They also have to be Medicaid eligible. Some of the patients we see are, but some of them are not. The system looks great on paper, and we think it’s going to work, but not for everybody. Not for most of my people.”

That’s where Patterson says the Bureau Justice Assistance comes in. LSU Health Shreveport has received money to partner with the University of Cincinnati, Police Research Associates, the Arc, and International Association of Chiefs of Police to hold academic training to inform police responses.

Lead by the University of Cincinnati for Police Research and Policy, this initiative “brings together experts in law enforcement, behavioral health, disabilities curriculum development, and evaluation to raise awareness in the law enforcement community about the nature and needs of persons with behavioral health conditions and intellectual and developmental disabilities to facilitate the use of evidence-informed and best practices in crisis response.”

“We just want to raise awareness in the law enforcement community about the needs of these folks and how we best help them,” Patterson said. “Often times putting them in jail is not the right answer.”

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