Friday, January 11, 2008

Blue in Baltimore

This week in Baltimore, the fire department issued a rare “blue alert” – usually seen during only the most severe weather emergencies. It overrides all other directives and allows medics to take patients to the nearest ER regardless of how crowded it is.


Across Maryland, beds are full in the ERS – many filled by those in psychiatric crisis.

Dr. Jeff Sternlicht, director of emergency services at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center … said that the unusual issuance of a blue alert in Baltimore County is the direct result of a growing problem in Maryland and across the country.

"There are not enough emergency beds or hospital beds in Maryland right now or nationwide. But the problem is worse in Maryland," he said.

Sternlicht admitted the problem is complex.

He said that overcrowding is caused by growing patient need, due in part to a shift in primary care abilities, decreasing hospital beds, and, in Maryland, inadequate psychiatric care that leads patients who need mental help to the ER for care.

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