State Representative Imani Barnes (D-Tucker) recently introduced House Bill 913, also known as the “EmPATH Georgia Act,” which would require the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to establish a grant program for creating emergency psychiatric assessments, treatment and healing (EmPATH) units in hospitals.
“Maintaining accessible and affordable health care remains at the forefront of the General Assembly’s priorities, and with this legislation, it is my hope that we can continue to build on that foundation and establish available avenues for any and all Georgians struggling with mental health concerns and access to psychiatric care,” said Rep. Barnes. “I am eager to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we work to create a therapeutic alliance and improved emergency department throughput in all hospitals throughout the state.”
HB 913 would establish what are known as “EmPATH” units, which are hospital-based emergency care units that provide emergency psychiatric assessment and treatment for individuals struggling with behavioral health crises. The goal of EmPATH units is to expedite patient treatment, rapidly stabilize an individual in crisis, reduce emergency department length of stay and free up inpatient beds for those who most need them. HB 913 would require evaluations for intensive crisis treatment to be conducted within 24-hours of an individual’s admission into the hospital unit. Additionally, HB 913 would require EmPATH units to be operable 24-hours a day, seven days a week to offer intensive short-term non-institutional treatment.
More information on HB 913 may be found here.
Representative Imani Barnes represents the citizens of District 86, which includes portions of DeKalb County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2022 and currently serves on the Higher Education, Small Business Development and Technology and Infrastructure committees.