On the front lines of mental health care, emergency rooms across Chicago are adapting

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Patients seeking mental health care, sitting in emergency rooms for hours as clinical staff conduct physical tests unrelated to their problem. Case managers making scores of phone calls just to find one spot in an in-patient program.

This scenario encountered by mental health patients in their local emergency rooms is less than ideal, experts say, and is even more of a problem as hospitals see an influx of mental health patients, driven by scarce local resources for treatment and a national shortage of psychiatrists.