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NC DHHS Press Release: Video psychiatry aims to reduce ER crowding, lack of rural services


For Immediate Release
Saturday, August 17, 2013

Video psychiatry aims to reduce ER crowding, lack of rural services
By Annalise Frank
Raleigh News & Observer

Raleigh, N.C. - Rural areas without enough mental health resources will get access to psychiatrists through online video chatting in a program Gov. Pat McCrory announced Friday in Greenville.

The state budget provides $4 million over two years for East Carolina University to install video communication technology in 60 to 80 hospital emergency departments. Hospitals have complained about overcrowding and long waits in emergency rooms caused by a rise in behavioral health patients going to the ER for care.

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"No matter where you live in North Carolina, you will soon have better access to mental health providers with the expansion of telepsychiatry across our state," McCrory said in a statement.

He was joined by Aldona Wos, Secretary of Health and Human Services, for the announcement.

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Wos said by investing in the program the state was "confronting one of North Carolina's biggest and most important healthcare challenges."

"During my travels to hospitals around North Carolina, it is apparent that improving quality and access to mental health services must be a priority," she said in a statement.

ECU will begin the program with oversight by the DHHS Office of Rural Health and Community Care, starting in January.

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