Mental health care can strain the system

Along the Grand Strand, mental health clinics provide short-term and outpatient care, but for evaluations and psychoses, the closest mental health center that provides bed space to psychiatric patients is in Columbia.

Many times those in our area can't get there when serious psychological distress happens, which is posing a problem for residents on the Grand Strand seeking the proper mental health treatment.

"The real issue really ends up being are they in the appropriate place?," Preston Strosnider, D.O.M.S, Vice President for Medical Affairs at Conway Medical Center says.

"Emergency room physicians are awfully good, but it isn't there specialty and if you can get someone to a specialist outside the hospital confines I think it's much better. "

The latest CDC numbers show in one year, 1.6 million people were discharged with psychoses as first-listed diagnosis. They stayed there for an average of 7 and a half days.

"You'll be triaged and seen by a physician. First thing they'll do is evaluate if it's a mental disease, probably some blood work to find out if you're taking medications that might do it or illegal medications," he adds.

If the Emergency Department doctor isn't sure, they can consult with a psychiatrist through a teleconference.

"Where a psychiatrist is available by video and evaluate the patient to determine whether or not they might be able to be sent home," Strosnider says.

J. Reuben Long Detention Center also commonly sees inmates with mental health cases.

The jail's director, Tom Fox, says on average they house 8 to 16 inmates with mental health conditions in a separate facility. Each inmate is housed alone, but the jail also relies on the consultation of a psychiatrist via teleconference.

In terms of monitoring patients while they are at the jail or ER, Fox says jail employees check-in every 15 minutes. At Conway Medical Center, Strosnider says its 24-7.