Increasing numbers of patients formerly hospitalized in state facilities are using private general hospital psychiatric emergency services. To define their clinical needs, the authors compared the characteristics of patients hospitalized in state institutions to those hospitalized privately and to those never hospitalized. They found that two discrete clinical groups exist: those from state and those from private systems. Clinicians reacted most negatively to former state patients. This was also reflected by differences in the dispositions of voluntary patients from the emergency room. Those not hospitalized or privately hospitalized were more likely than former state hospitalized patients to be sent to private facilities.