AUSTIN (KXAN) — The shooting at Fort Hood on Wednesday highlighted the need for more services for psychiatric patients among the civilian population.
In three weeks a new Psychiatric Emergency Department is set to open at University Medical Center Brackenridge.
Dr. Kari Wolf showed off what will be a first for medical care in Central Texas. An emergency department dedicated solely to those needing emergency psychiatric care.
“The people who are here are often at risk of hurting themselves,” Wolf said, “so we need to make sure the environment is safe.”
The Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department at UMC Brackenridge will have 17 rooms in two sections. Seven for ambulatory treat-and-release patients, and 10 for acute patients who are held involuntarily, or need to be transferred to a higher level of care.
“This facility in and of itself is really leading edge,” Wolf said. “It’s undersized for the community. We did the best we could with the space we had, but in terms of how this was designed, how it’s staffed, how it’s being rolled out, is really at the forefront.”
It promises to be a lifeline for anyone needing emergency mental health services.
“Anyone who feels like they don’t know what to do, they may be experiencing a crisis, they may not be to the crisis point yet. They’re feeling down, they are feeling something is not right with them. There are lots of resources to get help. And help is readily available.”
Thousands are expected to seek psychiatric care here every year. Wolf anticipates the facility will be at 100 percent occupancy every day.
The new Seton Psychiatric Emergency Department will take some pressure off the regular emergency room, freeing up staff and space to deal with medical emergencies.