BOISE — Officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare say more Idaho residents are being committed to the state’s psychiatric hospitals, but the length of time they spend in the hospitals is dropping.

Ross Edmunds with the department’s Division of Mental Health told members of the Legislature’s budget-setting committee on Wednesday that there were 473 commitments to State Hospital South in Pocatello and State Hospital North in Orofino in fiscal year 2008, compared to a projected 818 commitments for fiscal year 2013.

Mental health admissions to community hospitals has also climbed in recent years, Edmunds said, from just over 1,000 tallied in fiscal year 2010 to 1,230 in fiscal year 2012.

But at the same time, the department has gotten quicker at moving residents from the more expensive community hospitals to the state hospitals once a court orders a longer-term commitment period.

That’s important, he said, because the state’s cost at community hospitals averages about $760 per patient, per day, compared to around $440 at the state hospitals.

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