Telepsychiatry cartIn a collaboration of historic significance, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health partnered with The Duke Endowment to create in December 2007 an innovative solution to the overcrowding of psychiatric patients in local hospital emergency departments. The solution was called “Partners in Behavioral Health Emergency Services.” Informally, it is referred to as the “SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program.” It is a cutting-edge statewide service delivery model that provides remote access for emergency departments in South Carolina to psychiatrists whenever a psychiatric evaluation is required. With on-going program evaluation from the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, early financial support from the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and initial program support from the South Carolina Hospital Association, the Program is a critical component to meeting the increased demand on emergency departments to treat psychiatric and co-occurring disorder patients. The approach is to impact the demand for services at the service-delivery point with a product that will augment the limited resources available in the emergency departments. The solution is the SCDMH Emergency Department Telepsychiatry Program. It is the first of its kind nationally.