In December 2011, the hospital created the position of emergency psychiatry consultation liaison nurse.
This specially-trained nurse works exclusively with people who visit the emergency department requiring mental health care.
The liaison nurse assists with patient assessment, initiation of treatment, patient flow, and continuity of care once the patient is transferred to an inpatient unit or discharged from the emergency deparment.
“Our liaison nurse is providing excellent direct care to mental health patients in the emergency department, and providing much needed support to the psychiatrists and mental health care team at HSN, both in the emergency deparment and in our inpatient psychiatric unit,” Dr. Rayudu Koka, psychiatrist and medical director of the Mental Health and Addictions Program at Health Sciences North, said.
“The liaison nurse has been a great addition to the emergency department,” Dr. Rob Lepage, emergency department physician and medical director of the emergency department, said.
“She has extensive experience with mental health patients, her assessments are excellent, and she has improved the flow of mental health care patients through the emergency department.”
In the first three months of 2012, the liaison nurse managed more than 130 patient encounters.
Results of the pilot project include 31 cases where care in the community was organized thus avoiding hospital admission, 87 cases in which medication management issues were identified and corrected, and 68 cases where aggressive behaviour in the emergency department was reduced or eliminated. The presence of the liaison nurse also led to the reduction of the average length of stay in the emergency department for mental health care patients.
By providing treatment initiation in the emergency department and improving continuity of care to the inpatient units, the liaison nurse role has also helped shorten the inpatient length of stay during the pilot phase.
“From what we’ve experienced so far, the role of the emergency psychiatry consultation liaison nurse has had a positive impact on our patients, their families and staff in the emergency department,” Maureen McLelland, administrative director of Health Sciences North's Mental Health and Addictions Program.
“Patients are telling us they are more satisfied with the care they are receiving in the emergency department, and our staff are saying the work of the Liaison Nurse is leading to better care for patients, and a safer work environment.”