The MIMH team working on the ER Enhancement Project includes (from left) Keith Eldridge, project analyst expert; Rita Adkins, project director; Suzanne McCudden, project development specialist; Mary Dugan, research assistant professor; Mandy Nelson, research lab technician, and Michelle Hendricks, research assistant professor. (Photo by MIMH)


It’s not uncommon for people suffering from mental health disorders to make repeated visits to the emergency room. And while the ER provides short-term relief, the situation is untenable and highlights a widespread and increasing problem in health care.

Often after being stabilized the patients are released without any referral for follow-up care and many times quickly end up back in the ER.

In an attempt to help slow the ER-treatment cycle and decrease state and federal health-care expenditures, the Missouri Department of Mental Health has provided funding to seven sites across Missouri for “The ER Enhancement” project. Its goal is to develop effective intervention models for people in mental health crisis, create alternatives to unnecessary or extended hospitalization and reduce unnecessary ER visits.

The Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri–St. Louis has received $380,000 from the DMH to evaluate the outcomes of the seven sites and report on data. MIMH will be looking at changes in ER utilization, enrollments in treatment programs, housing and employment and involvement with law enforcement.

Rita Adkins, project director at MIMH and principal investigator on the project, is leading the MIMH evaluation team to see whether the ERE goals and objectives are being met. The team is using an online Web-based data-entry system developed at MIMH and designed so that each site can securely report patients’ progress.

“It is very fulfilling to work on a project that makes such a positive impact on others,” Adkins said. “Not only are there changes on an individual level, but to society as a whole.”

Read the full article on the Office of Research Administration website.

Tamara Wilgers is director of technology commercialization and economic development within the Office of Research Administration at UMSL, and Abby Schulte is an executive staff assistant in the Office of Research Administration at UMSL.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez