BALTIMORE – 211 Maryland, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), and the MDH Behavioral Health Administration are excited to announce the statewide launch of the 211 Care Coordination program for hospital emergency departments (EDs). Patients discharged from EDs would often benefit from community-based behavioral health services, but finding available mental health and substance use services can be difficult. The Care Coordination program allows hospital staff to connect patients with timely, community-based referrals for behavioral health services upon discharge.
The mental health ED visits rate significantly increased from 11.46% in 2018 to 47.95% in 2021, with nearly half of the visits occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2021. In response to the increasing demand for mental health services in EDs, 211 Maryland and MDH launched a pilot phase of the Care Coordination program in the Baltimore area in July 2022. Now the program is available to hospitals across Maryland.
“Thank you to our hospital partners who were instrumental in this initiative getting off the ground,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Having visibility into available mental health and substance use resources promptly is critical. When Marylanders leave the emergency room, it marks the beginning of the next step in their care. This program streamlines existing resources to connect individuals with appropriate services when they need them most.”
Hospital discharge planners can access the Care Coordination program by dialing 2-1-1 and pressing 4, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 211’s Care Coordinators will then gather more information, search for available services convenient to the patient, share the service information with the hospital discharge planner, and connect the patient as appropriate. Afterward, Care Coordinators will follow up with the patients and close the loop with the discharge planners.
“211 coordinators collaborate well and respond timely to provide resources and guidance in disposition planning. The coordinator follow-up directly with the referral source. 211 also provides continuity in the community to promote a successful transition,” said Craig Carmichael, president of Northwest Hospital and SVP of LifeBridge Health, one of the early hospital adopters. “Once engaged with 211 team members, we saw significant reductions in the time patients were being held for transfer to other facilities for treatment.”
“Some Marylanders who find themselves hospitalized may need additional, continued support,” said MDH Behavioral Health Administration Acting Deputy Secretary Dr. Lisa Burgess. “It is our responsibility to ensure that Maryland’s behavioral health system connects these individuals to necessary mental health and substance use services. The 211 Care Coordination program helps to ensure they will receive the ongoing care they need.”
211 Maryland maintains a powerful, statewide database that includes thousands of resources to connect residents to a host of services: from mental health practitioners and substance use treatment to food and housing assistance. Leveraging the power of 211’s database and community partners, the Care Coordination program supports hospital discharge planners in locating available and accessible behavioral health services for patients discharged from emergency rooms.