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Legislation Aims to Improve Access to Mental Health Care, Reduce Strain on Emergency Rooms
Hospital emergency rooms are required by law to help patients who have a severe and immediate medical need. However, many hospitals lack the available resources to treat individuals who have an acute psychiatric problem, creating a need for emergency room personnel to devote the additional time and effort to find another hospital that can treat the patient.
A recent report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicated that beds in hospital psychiatric units in Pennsylvania regularly sit empty due to a lack of direct communication between providers seeking care for these patients and facilities with available services.
In the near future, I will introduce legislation that would help improve communication between hospital emergency rooms and psychiatric units by creating a real-time, voluntary registry to identify psychiatric treatment facilities that have available beds for patients. The legislation would connect patients to the care they need while at the same time helping to ease the strain on busy, overcrowded emergency rooms.
My proposal is comparable to legislation that has already been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dan Miller (D-Mt. Lebanon). Twenty-two other states already have similar registries in place to improve patient care. I am hopeful that Pennsylvania will join these states in improving patient access to appropriate mental health care services.
Transportation Committee Examines Storm Response, State Police Funding
The Senate Transportation Committee, of which I am a member, held a pair of public hearings this week to examine the states response to Winter Storm Jonas and explore reliable alternatives to fund the Pennsylvania State Police.
Highlights and testimony from the joint hearing with the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee regarding emergency response from the snowstorm is available here.
Video and testimony from the hearing regarding State Police funding options is available here.
Coffee With Camera Events Scheduled in Greene, Beaver Counties
Over the next several weeks, I look forward to hosting two Coffee with Camera events in Greene and Beaver counties. These informal events are designed to help residents take a break from the daily grind and enjoy relaxed conversation about what is happening in our communities. They also provide me an opportunity to share whats happening in Harrisburg and more about my legislative and district priorities.
The Greene County event will be held on March 17 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Cumberland Township Municipal Building located at 100 Municipal Road in Carmichaels. Beaver County residents can join me on April 7 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Hopewell Township Municipal Building located at 1700 Clark Boulevard in Aliquippa.
For more information or to RSVP for either of these events, please contact Lauren Adair at LAdair@pasen.gov or call (724) 746-3762. I look forward to seeing you!
Tele-Town Hall Meeting Scheduled on March 22nd
Please join me for a live telephone town hall event on Tuesday, March 22nd from 6-7 p.m. It is another great opportunity to talk about some of the most important issues facing Pennsylvania and individual communities throughout the area.
The tele-town hall format encourages community residents to participate in a discussion on the issues without the need to travel. Participants can ask questions or simply remain on the line to listen to the discussion.
The event will also feature a live audio stream page that allows smartphone, tablet and computer users to listen in and submit questions online. Stay tuned for details regarding registration for the event and a link to the live audio stream.
Budget Hearings Begin Next Week
Starting next week, the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a series of hearings to examine the 2016-17 budget proposed by Governor Wolf. The hearings, which are scheduled to run from February 22 through March 10, will allow lawmakers to question members of the Wolf Administration regarding the operation, cost and performance of state programs and services, as well as the potential impact of the governors new spending and tax proposals.
Full coverage of the hearings, including photos, video and testimony, will be available online at www.pasenategop.com.
Washington County Farm Bureau Food Drive Begins
Throughout February and March, the Washington County Farm Bureau is sponsoring a regional food collection drive to benefit the food pantries of the Greater Washington County Food Bank. These pantries play a crucial role in meeting the nutritional needs of thousands of individuals and families in need, and this annual food drive is among the most important events in ensuring these needs are met.
If you are able to help, please consider donating to this wonderful cause. A complete list of drop-off locations is available below.
Avella Community Center/Library 11 School Court, Avella, Pa. 15312 724-587-3558
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building