Proper mental health care has been in deficit for decades in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and it is now part of the county’s focus as it improves the overall health care system.
The US Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) Attended the opening Tuesday of an ethical health unit that focuses not only on treatment but how they treat patients.
“Everyone knows if you have a broken arm they can see a broken arm and they can see how they fixed it and insurers know they can fix it and they can stop paying,” he said. “For centuries, millennia, mental health has been an even greater challenge.”
MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital’s new adult behavioral health unit includes new treatment areas, examination areas, a quiet room and a facility for administrative hearings while patient is in care.
“These facilities give us an opportunity to truly heal people so we don’t have to continue to recycle people who are sick and suffering in prison,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
When he was a state attorney, he saw firsthand how a lack of mental health resources affected the court system, prisons and the surrounding region.
“We have two acute care facilities to serve a million people – absolutely not enough,” Alsobrooks said. “More than half of all of our residents who need inpatient care seek it out of the county.”
Seventy percent of people in Prince George’s County prisons come with a prescription for mental health medication, according to Alsobrooks. The hope is that by providing more of these facilities, people can be cared for in safer environments.
“With the services we have planned, it means their family members will live at home better and longer,” said MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Behavioral Health Chair and Medical Director Dr. Corina Freitas. “They don’t get much in the hospital.”
Alsobrooks said that while there is rapid progress in mental health treatment in the county, there is still a long way to go.
A 16-bed inpatient psychiatric unit set up at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham will include walk-in/urgent care and treat adults and adolescents. It is expected to open soon.