Cardinal Innovations Works To Reduce ER Admissions

​The Emergency Room (ER) often is the first place people go when they experience a crisis, but it may not be the best choice for everyone. With its educational ER Diversion Campaign, Cardinal Innovations is encouraging people to make different choices during mental health crises.

The campaign aims to increase awareness about access, referral and crisis services available 24/7/365 to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The goals are to offer other treatment options to handle mental health crises differently and often more quickly than in the ER and to reduce the number of ER visits.

The slogan, “Get Help in 30 Seconds, Not 3 Hours,” has been printed on magnets, wallet cards and tabletop posters that are being distributed throughout Mecklenburg County to encourage individuals to think about other options before heading to the ER. The campaign also benefits hospitals and other patients.

“Helping people know there are other options for care when in a mental health crisis will help decrease wait times in Emergency Departments,” said Tammy Gilmore, Vice President of Community Programs for Cardinal Innovations.

The following message is printed on the magnets and wallet cards for easy access: “When you or a loved one is going through a mental health crisis, call 1-800-939-5911 before going to the emergency room, and our licensed mental health professionals answer the phone within 30 seconds,* saving time and immediately connecting people with appropriate treatment and services.”

Cardinal Innovations is spreading the word by mailing the cards and magnets directly to members who have gone to the ER recently for a mental health crisis. Community and stakeholder partners also are distributing them. Cardinal Innovations’ inpatient hospital liaisons distribute the information during hospital visits with members, and Care Coordinators offer them to members during in-home visits.

“We’re going to be looking for trends,” said Kim McMillan, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Cardinal Innovations. “We know each month how many cards we mail per zip code. Over time, we will analyze the zip codes against ER admissions for hospitals located in those areas to see if we’re redirecting ER admissions.”

Care Coordinators are using home visits as an opportunity to educate members about their options during a crisis.

“Care Coordinators are handing these magnets out to members when they provide their face-toface visits in the community. They are targeting those members with frequent Emergency Department utilization and/or recent crisis events,” said Jennifer Love-Pennell, MH/ SA Care Coordination Manager with Cardinal Innovations. “The feedback I have received is that this resource has been well received and accepted by members and their families.”

Judy Kilgore, a Hospital Care Clinician with Cardinal Innovations, also shares information when she meets with individuals who have been hospitalized after seeking help in an ER.

“What I have done on the inpatient unit is get approval from unit staff to attach an ER Diversion flier to each member’s chart,” Kilgore said, adding that the flier is then given to the patient and reminds them of alternate options if another crisis occurs.

“During hospital stays, I have already talked in detail about the flier so members know what it is about when it is handed to them as they walk out the door,” Kilgore said. “I place it in the charts at the time of admission so the hospital staff does not have to figure out which patients are Cardinal Innovations members and which patients are not members.”

In addition to the magnets and cards, civic organizations and more than 100 primary care offices have committed to displaying tabletop posters in their offices.

*99.0% of calls answered within 30 seconds between January and September 2014.