The bill aims to increase the staffing of hospitals for the treatment of mental health crises and drug addiction.

Assembly Bill 1001 was introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney, a progressive Democrat from San Francisco. It is reported that if the law is passed, there will be enough qualified staff in all departments of the hospital to provide prompt assistance to those experiencing mental health and addiction crises.

The bill requires hospitals to immediately provide the following services for hospital patients outside of psychiatric wards: at least two registered psychiatric nurses and one trained staff member, as well as a staff member capable of caring for the patient’s psychosocial needs.

The California Department of Health Access and Information reported that in 2020, people with behavioral health diagnoses accounted for a third of all hospital admissions.

But despite the need, there is currently no mandate on the number of mental health staff available to care for these patients, often resulting in long waiting times.

Members of the California Nurses Association, a union of more than 100,000 nurses in the state, said California hospitals are becoming increasingly unprepared and lack specialized nurses to respond to the growing number of patients in need of behavioral health care.

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