Online tool helps track Oregon hospital beds for mental health services

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon Health & Science University announced the launch of the Oregon Behavioral Health Coordination Center. The tool is based on the Oregon Capacity System which was used to keep track of open hospital beds during the height of the pandemic. This new version will track open inpatient beds at Oregon’s 11 behavioral health care centers.

“By itself, it doesn’t increase the resources available, but will give us a better understanding of what do we actually have,” said Matthias Merkel, senior associate chief medical officer for OHSU Health.

Using state and federal funding, the hospital led efforts to create the Oregon Behavioral Health Coordination Center. The system tracks data in real-time, noting when patients check in and check out. Without centralized information, doctors said finding open beds can be difficult and time-consuming, and patients must wait. That often creates a backlog for others seeking health care.

“They have to board in our emergency rooms and sometimes in our inpatient setting, which is not the ideal environment for a patient who needs specific behavioral health treatments,” Merkel said.

For kids, this tool comes at an even more critical time. Doctors said statewide, pediatric behavioral health beds are in short supply.

“We have very few available pediatric behavioral health beds anywhere in our state, while our children’s psychiatric needs are escalating,” said Ajit Jetmalani, M.D., a child psychiatrist at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “Without centralized information, we are calling around to colleagues with inpatient care, sometimes asking for favors — even as other providers are as well. … This is an incredibly disheartening and stressful time, full of medical and moral conundrums.”

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