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PROVIDENCE – The Senate approved legislation on May 10 sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, to create a pilot program to divert people with substance-abuse issues away from emergency rooms and into more appropriate places for treatment.
The legislation calls on the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to propose a program that would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to steer people with substance-abuse problems into a continuum care for treatment and recovery.
The pilot’s design would be based on models currently employed in Massachusetts, California and Washington that have shown an ability to improve health outcomes for these individuals while also reducing overall system costs.
“Right now, when someone with an alcohol or drug problem is picked up by police or rescue, they have to be brought to an emergency room, even though their problem is not necessarily an emergency, nor is it something that an emergency room can do much to treat,” Miller said. “It’s ineffective both in terms of treatment for that person and in use of public and private health care resources.”
The bill now moves to the House. •