Ascension Borgess mental health annex back in use

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Ascension Borgess in Kalamazoo says that after an adjustment to allow for “logistical improvements,” an emergency behavioral health annex is again being used to treat only mental health patients in crisis.

The nurses union had voiced concerns about a temporary change that put saw those patients receiving treatment in the same area as medical patients.

“We were notified by the hospital that they want to put our behavioral health patients back out into the main ER and utilize the annex for other medical patients,” Cindy Evans, an emergency department behavioral health nurse, said.

She said she first noticed the hospital wasn’t using the area for behavioral health patients around the start of the year. The Michigan Nurses Association requested a meeting and met with hospital administrators on March 1. Evans said the hospital told the nurses that the change was temporary. Unhappy with the response, the union filed a written complaint.

In a Thursday statement to News 8, Ascension Borgess acknowledged the change, which it said had been in place for about a week. It said it was made to allow for “logistical improvements.” It also said that the improvements wrapped up Thursday, at which point everything returned to normal.

“Due to logistical improvements being made, for approximately the last week, behavioral health patients were being treated in a separate designated area of the emergency department, with the same care services and resources available to them as in the annex. As of today, those improvements have been completed, and behavioral health patients are once again receiving care in the behavioral health annex.”

Ascension Borgess

Opened in 2017, the annex has space for eight patients.

“It’s been wonderful,” Evans said. “We have had patients sometimes in the emergency department for weeks on end waiting for placement and the annex provides them a safe area where they can leave their rooms, they can walk around, they can shower. They can have some dignity while they’re spending some time in the emergency department.”

Evans said in a statement that she is grateful the union was able to raise the concerns publicly and have the administration reconsider its previous position.

“Mental health is not going away,” she told News 8. “There’s a big push for mental health availability resources in the United States all over and so to have this (dedicated annex) available to the community in Kalamazoo is groundbreaking and a really positive step forward.”

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