Minnesota hospitals test mental health transports


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota hospitals are considering ways to transport mental health patients in unmarked vehicles instead of ambulances.

The Star Tribune reports (http://strib.mn/1wyihSA ) hospitals and local officials across the state are experimenting with ways of responding to a psychiatric crisis if there’s no public safety risk. Changes could cut down on ambulance costs and the time police and fire departments spend transporting psychiatric patients. Medical experts also aim to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.

A fire chief in St. Louis County says, his paramedic workers spend many hours transporting mental health patients. He says many insurance companies and government health programs cover ambulance trips, but not private security guard transports.

Minnesota lawmakers created a class of nonemergency transports under state law earlier this year.

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