The State Launches OpenBeds for People Seeking Behavioral Health Help

The website tracks open beds at mental health and substance use treatment facilities across Rhode Island.

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One of the greatest barriers to behavioral health care in Rhode Island is finding an open bed. For years, people in crisis — including those stepping down from emergent care and those seeking help with substance abuse issues — or their caregivers would need to call facility after facility, hoping for access to life-saving treatment.

To address this issue, the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Development Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) recently developed OpenBeds, a website to help residents narrow down available substance abuse or mental health services in the state. The platform, which had a soft launch last summer with Rhode Island providers and is now available for use by the general public, was inspired by a bill introduced by State Senator Joshua Miller that pushed for such a database. It was funded with grant money from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

OpenBeds comes amid a wave of behavioral health challenges relating to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, late last June, 40 percent of American adults reported struggling with their mental health or substance use. And, in Rhode Island, the deluge of need has been met with fewer inpatient beds due to social distancing and outbreak-related unit shutdowns.

On OpenBeds, Rhode Islanders can search by bed availability, bed type — including those for children, adolescents, adults and geriatric patients — and service type. Providers update the information themselves on a daily or weekly basis but BHDDH plans to streamline the website for real-time updates in the future.

According to a press release, BHDDH Director Kathy Power says, “This represents a tremendous step forward, one that will help individuals and providers access essential services, and one that will help us gauge as a state how well we are meeting the demand for these services.”

OpenBeds draws Power’s latter point into greater focus, considering nearly 77 percent of inpatient providers in the database are not accepting patients or are filled with individuals waiting for beds in other facilities. No inpatient beds, at publish time, are available for children.

Visit riopenbeds.org to learn more.


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