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Five Valley Banner Health hospitals -- three in the East Valley -- are testing out a program that allows patients with behavioral health issues in the emergency room to see a psychiatrist via a secure video link.

It's called "Telepsych" -- almost immediate access from Banner Desert Medical, Banner Ironwood and Cardon Children's Medical Center to the Banner Psychiatric Center in Scottsdale. Banner Thunderbird in Glendale also piloted the program in October.

"They can stay here, they can have their assessment and the psychiatrist can recommend outpatient treatment and set them up with outpatient services," said Suzanne Gotell, Nursing Manager at Banner Ironwood.

Before, many of the patients were taken by ambulance to Scottsdale to be assessed and wait times for that assessment varied between 12 and 18 hours.

"It also decreases cost," said Gotell. "With this service, we'll now be able to discharge a vast majority of our patients -- approximately 50 percent -- instead of sending them to Scottsdale."

The service, used about 10 to 15 times a week, also helps get patients home sooner, Gotell said.

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