In hospitals across the state, the lack of available beds has sent some psychiatric patients to emergency rooms, where they wait for hours to be admitted.
Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System Executive Director Dr. Joe Acker says the need is extreme.
The trend in Alabama is happening across the country as hospital administrators say the demand for psychiatric hospital beds is escalating.
Earlier this month, state regulators approved 38 additional beds for five psychiatric hospitals across the state, including Brookwood Medical Center and Gadsden Regional Medical Center far fewer than the hospitals originally sought.
Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children is set to open in August, and plans call for an additional 12 beds in a fourth-floor psychiatric unit scheduled for completion by fall 2013.