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Here in Florida, you usually only get quality mental healthcare if you have good insurance. I worked in an ER at a local hospital that had a psych unit (so the ER was the receiving area for psych patients), and now I work at an indigent mental health facility (the same one we’d send patients to). In the ER, I remember our social workers and counselors telling the many patients we’d get that since they don’t have insurance, or don’t have adequate insurance, then they get to go in a little room with four beds in it and have to agree to be transferred….or else they stay in that little room for a few days, getting no daily therapy, but still getting to see the doctor.
Occasionally someone with severe mental illness that didn’t have insurance would get let into the unit, usually cases that the doctor found very interesting. The rest would either wait in that in-between room, or get sent to where I work now….the indigent care facility. My facility that I work at now is the only indigent care facility in a 3 county radius. Not that my facility is bad, but the psych unit at the hospital just has far more resources and far more staff.
I love my facility, but it’s funded by the state, so it looks crappy and we all get paid peanuts.
Anyhow, those that truly need long term care end up having to wait, even with insurance. We have a residential program where I work, meant to last from a few weeks up to a year. To get into that, usually the patient has to have been readmitted several times to the crisis unit. Each readmission is usually based on another outburst of their mental illness, or another suicide attempt. THEN, if our residential program turns out not to be enough, they have to wait for several MONTHS to get to go to the state hospital. The wait is so bad that now everyone automatically gets added to the waiting list when they arrive, whether they need it or not (obviously they can be taken off). After they arrive there, generally they get discharged after a few months, come home, then end up in our crisis unit again after a few more months and the cycle continues.
Our system REALLY needs work.
Oh and since I’m on a roll, I’ll give an example of my state showing their utter apathy toward mental health….our shitty governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would grant the organization that I work for 1.5 million dollars (I may be off, but it was at least a million) to use to build a new crisis unit since ours is practically always full. It would take a huge load off of a particular hospital in our county (not the one I used to work for) that also didn’t accept patients with no insurance. They’d just ship them 20 miles off to us.
Rick Scott took that money, and instead appointed it to refurbish the city hall for one of the cities in our county. They care more about how city hall looks than the mental health of the residents. Makes me sick.