Issues in mental health nursing 2017 09 21() 1-7 doi 10.1080/01612840.2017.1364809
Psychiatric bed capacity has decreased nationally with an impact on the number and the types of patients admitted to acute in-patient units. Acute residential programs provide alternatives to hospitals for patients with problems that do not meet criteria for admission. However, these settings may not have resources to respond to the medical co-morbidities associated with severe mental illness. To understand the medical needs of patients in these settings, this research examined data from a nurse-managed primary care outreach service. Prevalent problems included acute issues and chronic disorders associated with severe mental illness. In multivariate analyses, demographic and substance related factors contributed to all chronic illness. However, age was the over-riding predictor of cardio-metabolic disorders. Drug abuse consistently predicted HIV/AIDS and HCV risk. Findings demonstrate that patients diverted to alternative forms of acute psychiatric care are no less in need of medical services than those admitted to hospitals. This underscores the importance of primary care that is provided at the site of acute residential treatment and integrated with overall care.