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ReferNet is a partnership between Dignity Health hospitals in the Sacramento region and El Hogar Community Services, Inc. It addresses the overutilization of the hospitals' emergency departments by individuals in need of outpatient behavioral health (mental health and/or substance abuse) services. Individuals not connected with appropriate primary health and/or behavioral health care often resort to utilizing hospital emergency rooms as their only source of care. ReferNet creates a seamless system of care in which hospital social workers directly schedule individuals not in need of emergency services with El Hogar's outpatient behavioral health provider for necessary care. At the initial appointment, ReferNet's clinician conducts an assessment to determine diagnosis and service needs.
More than 350 individuals have been served through ReferNet to date; all were connected with primary care physicians and received services from the ReferNet clinician. Of those individuals served, 100% received skills training and coping strategies to better manage their behavioral health symptoms. As a result, individuals not in need of emergency services seek appropriate care rather than utilizing hospital emergency rooms.