Private hospitals may step in to ease ER crowding

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada officials are considering a partnering with private hospitals to ease emergency rooms crowded with psychiatric patients.

State health and human services chief Mike Willden tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal his agency talking with two or three hospitals interested in opening psychiatric wings. He declined to name the hospitals because the negotiations are ongoing.

The issue was among several discussed Monday and Tuesday at a meeting of Gov. Brian Sandoval's Behavioral Health and Wellness Council. The panel is trying to determine how to address a high number of mental patients taking up ER beds, a problem that forced several Las Vegas hospitals to turn away ambulances in February.

The group also discussed opening more triage centers, where psychiatric patients can be stabilized outside of an emergency room setting.

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