Hospital-Based Crisis Stabilization Units

What Does Hospital-Based Crisis Stabilization Unit Mean?

  • Crisis stabilization (or EmPATH) units within hospitals, in this context, refer to:
    • Specialized hospital-based emergency departments and observation units dedicated to behavioral health that:
      • Ease overcrowding in the general emergency department,
      • Initiate needed urgent psychiatric treatment, and 
      • Reduce unnecessary admissions (i.e., hospital inpatient admissions).  

DHEC Certificate of Need and Licensure Implications

  • DHEC has published guidance for hospitals seeking to establish or expand hospital-based behavioral health crisis stabilization services. 
  • Specifically, DHEC addresses the certificate of need (CON) and licensure implications for hospital-based crisis stabilization units.
  • A CON is not required to establish a hospital-based crisis stabilization unit.
  • Crisis stabilization (or EmPATH) unit beds, bays, or spaces are not considered licensed hospital beds.
  • However, the units need to comply with Regulation 61-16 including applicable design, construction, and operations requirements. 

Grant Opportunities through SCDHHS

Hospitals interested in exploring or applying for grants related to establishing or expanding hospital-based behavioral health crisis stabilization services should contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) or visit their website here


Healthcare Quality Statewide