Nurses Declare Psychiatric Healthcare State of Emergency for San Francisco


New Data from City Shows Overcrowded Psychiatric Health System, and Epidemic of Untreated Mental Health Problems

More than 400 registered nurses and other healthcare staff at San Francisco General Hospital rallied to warn the public that the City’s psychiatric healthcare system has entered into a state of emergency, citing new data showing sharp jumps in the amount of time that the psychiatric emergency services and the emergency departments are on diversion, closing the facility to most new patients.

The City’s other emergency rooms do not offer the same level of care, especially for psychiatric issues; the result is an epidemic of untreated and under-treated mental health problems in the community.

These problems could worsen in the new facility, which was paid for with public money, but will open with services on diversion, departments understaffed, and no solutions in sight to this crisis.

The nurses released new data showing a sharp increase in 2016 in condition red for psychiatric emergency services. Psychiatric Emergency Services are “condition red,” essentially closed to new patients 34% of the time in January of 2016, up from 16% of the time in February of 2015. PES have been on condition red for approximately 250 hours each week of 2016.

The new data also showed that the San Francisco General Hospital Emergency Room is on diversion a record 60% of the time in February of 2016. That figure is expected to rise again in March. This indicates a significant and worrisome weakening of the City’s emergency room abilities.

“We see this crisis in psychiatric healthcare. We work in it. We know the tragedy. What can we do? We have to call it what it is, a state of emergency. City Hall wants to cover this up, but let’s fix it instead. We can’t let these problems just transfer to the new building and continue to fester,” said Jeanette Conley, a Psychiatric Emergency Services Registered Nurse.

On May 19th, nurses and healthcare workers will bring their message directly to Mayor Lee at City Hall. Join them, along City and nonprofit workers, to stand up for the communities they serve. Download the flyer (PDF).

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