24Jan

Supervisor Hahn Pushes Reform to Allow EMTs to Bring Intoxicated Patients to Sobering Centers

PRESS RELEASE
January 24, 2017
Contact: Liz Odendahl
lodendahl@bos.lacounty.gov
(213) 379-6301

Los Angeles, CA—Today, Supervisor Janice Hahn pushed for commonsense reform to allow EMTs and paramedics to bring patients to mental health urgent care centers and sobering centers.

Under current California State law, law enforcement personnel are allowed to transport intoxicated patients or patients experiencing mental health episodes to sobering centers or mental health centers but bars Emergency Medical Technicians or paramedics from doing so. Instead, EMTs and paramedics are required to bring these patients to the emergency room, which is often not the best place for these patients and only contributes to overcrowding.

“The bottom line is that if people like you and I can take an individual to a sobering center or a mental health urgent care center,” said Supervisor Hahn, “why can’t a highly trained medical professional do the same?”

Today, Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sponsor legislation in the California State Legislature to address this important issue.

Mitch Katz, the director of the county’s Department of Health Services, offered testimony to the Board of Supervisors.

“Sobering centers and mental health urgent care centers are more humane places to bring people. They are also less expensive places to bring people,” said Mitch Katz, who also commented that the state provision that requires paramedics to take patients to the hospital is outdated. “Having the board support a change in legislation will make a huge difference.”

The motion passed with unanimous support.

In 1970, Supervisor Janice Hahn’s father, former-Supervisor Kenny Hahn, proposed the creation of California’s first paramedic system.  Supervisor Janice Hahn commented at the board meeting today that she was excited to be working to improve the program that her father worked so hard on.