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Provider Notice issued 03/23/2020

Date:    March 23, 2020
To:       Hospitals with Psychiatric Inpatient Units for Children and Adolescents
Re:      SASS Youth Psychiatric Hospitalization – COVID-19 Guidance
This notice provides updated COVID-19 guidance to hospitals with psychiatric inpatient units for children and adolescents, when children and adolescents are recommended for psychiatric hospitalization following a Screening, Assessment, and Support Services (SASS)/Mobile Crisis Response (MCR)-Designated Service Area in-person screening.
HFS encourages all providers to use materials available through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) as part of their internal education of staff, including:
·         CDC Frequently Asked Questions:
·         Prevention and treatment suggestions (IDPH):
Coordination with SASS/MCR staff prior to Hospital Admission
Through separate guidance, HFS has instructed SASS/MCR providers to coordinate closely with hospitals when recommending inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for a youth after conducting a crisis assessment. The SASS crisis workers are to report any COVID-19-like symptoms to the hospital prior to transport.
Admission Evaluation
HFS encourages hospitals to establish separate areas for triage of suspected COVID-19 cases to diminish the possibility of COVID-19 transmission to youth, SASS/MCR crisis workers, and hospital staff, or others seeking hospital services. When possible, the Department recommends triaging youth experiencing crisis separately, and utilizing telehealth methods to complete the admissions evaluation for psychiatric hospitalization.
Requirements for Medical Clearance Prior to Admission
HFS encourages hospitals to evaluate the continued need for medical clearance for youth prior to admission. If deemed necessary, it is suggested to provide services related to medical clearance for an inpatient psychiatric stay outside of the Emergency Department (ED) or in a separate triage area for non-COVID-19 presenting individuals. Hospitals may consider admitting youth to the psychiatric unit and completing medical clearance on the unit, as opposed to the ED.

Youth Presenting to the Hospital Prior to SASS/MCR Screening
If a youth presents to the ED prior to being screened by SASS/MCR and the attending physician recommends psychiatric hospitalization, the hospital should call the CARES line at
800-345-9049 and request a crisis screening, as well as a Children’s Mental Health (CMH or HSI) Entry number. The youth should be admitted to the psychiatric unit as soon as possible. A crisis assessment conducted by a SASS/MCR crisis worker will still need to be completed. The responding SASS/MCR crisis worker should contact the hospital and complete the in-person screening via phone or video.
Questions regarding this notice may be directed to the Bureau of Behavioral Health via telephone at 217-557-1000 or via email at
Kelly Cunningham
Interim Medicaid Administrator


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