Local Emergency Room Staff Will Start Assessing Patients’ Mental Health

Mar 22, 2019

Emergency room staff at AdventHealth in Kissimmee and Orlando will ask patients about feelings of hopelessness or despair as part of routine assessments over the next year and a half. 

Then they’ll pair patients at a high risk of suicide with counselors who can provide follow-up care for ninety days.

Patients will receive daily calls-and possibly house visits-from these counselors who will assess their symptoms and connect them with mental health care resources in the community.

AdventHealth’s Robert Geissler says the program - a collaboration with the University of Central Florida - wants to reduce the number of suicide deaths in Central Florida.

“How do we start providing that preventative care like we would with a typical chest pain patient? The same type of healthcare probably doesn’t apply to those patients with that mental health disorder. And that’s why we’re trying to change the landscape with this particular project.”

UCF’s Kim Gryglewicz says similar programs-like one at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan and Centerstone Hospitals in Tennessee-prevented suicides along with healthcare costs associated with mental health-related emergency room visits.

“Often people who are in need of help and who are thinking about suicide, often have a sense of isolation or they’re feeling alone. Or they’re feeling like they’re a burden on other people. And they don’t have that feeling of connection or support. And this particular team of caregivers will be able to aide them in their recovery.”

Guidance counselors were on hand at Lake Mary High School last week after a 17-year old student killed herself. Her memorial will be held tonight at the school at 5:30.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.