California’s health care needs have evolved over time; AB 1795 will help update the current emergency response system
By ASSEMBLYMAN MIKE GIPSON
California has faced a mental health crisis since then-Gov. Ronald Reagan severely slashed mental health care in the state. The trickle-down effect has morphed into a torrential downpour as it continues to impact our growing homeless population.No one will deny that our emergency rooms are drastically over-crowded. Although they may be well-equipped to handle trauma, disasters or emergency physical health conditions – they are not as well-equipped to serve patients who have mental health care needs or substance abuse problems.
California’s health care needs have evolved over time and the current emergency response system must be updated to reflect this. Assembly Bill 1795, the bill I have authored will ensure that well-trained paramedics will have the option to direct a person to a mental health urgent care center or sobering center to receive timely and appropriate care if the county authorizes alternate destination care into their emergency response plan.
Under existing law, paramedics responding to a 9-1-1 call are required to direct people to an emergency department. Yet, in 2016 alone, emergency departments statewide were visited over 14.5 million times – an ever-increasing and unsustainable trend that puts the lives of patients at risk as hospital wait times continue to go up.
AB 1795 is co-sponsored by Los Angeles County and the California Hospital Association and supported by the California Ambulance Association. This measure may not solve the emergency room gridlock but it’s a step in the right direction.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson is chair of the California Assembly Democratic Caucus. He represents the 64th Assembly District which includes Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South L.A., Torrance, Watts/Willowbrook, and Wilmington.