- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials would develop a system for tracking when a bed is available for a person needing psychiatric treatment under a bill approved Tuesday by a Senate panel, though there is some concern over implementation.

Members of a Human Resources subcommittee approved the bill, which now heads to a full committee for consideration. The bill originated and was passed in the House.

The legislation would allow the state Department of Human Services to use $200,000 to develop and implement an electronic tracking system. A state official would then be able to check the availability of an inpatient psychiatric hospital bed and reserve a space for an adult or child.

The bill would require the bed to remain reserved until the patient arrived. Representatives with the Iowa Hospital Association expressed concern that the bill’s language over keeping a bed reserved would be problematic if a separate patient is seeking emergency treatment.

“We have a shortage of beds in our state,” said Greg Boattenhamer, a lobbyist for the association. “Without some specificity there, do we hold (the bed) until the end of time? … While over that period of time when we’re holding that bed, other people could utilize it.”

Susan Cameron with the Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies’ Association said that portion of the bill was critical.

“That is the problem,” she said. “That we will have a deputy (transporting a patient) headed some place and by the time they get there the bed is taken.”

Still, Cameron said she would be open to working with the hospital association over clarifying some language for emergency situations.

State officials currently resort to making several calls to treatment facilities to check for the availability of such beds. Still, it’s unclear whether this bill would solve the problem. Boattenhamer said there’s limited information available about the technology for the system and how often it would be updated.

Theresa Armstrong, bureau chief for mental health and disability services at DHS, said the department is currently working on collecting data for the tracking system.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide