Local mental health unit closed
Muskogee Phoenix - 8/18/2017
Aug. 17--An inpatient mental health unit at a local hospital has been closed temporarily, officials say, while the Saint Francis Health System transfers operations.
The Pavilion provided an emergency crisis hotline to help address mental health problems 24 hours a day, according to its former website.
It was a "24-hour locked acute psychiatric inpatient unit" whose focus was on "stabilizing medication to help reduce a person's symptoms." Services included medication management, group and individual therapy, referral services and marriage and family counseling.
Lauren Landwerlin, Saint Francis Health System's executive director of corporate communications, said the unit had been managed by a third-party management company whose contract with the hospital was terminated July 20.
"The unit will remain closed until the transition of clinical operations is complete," she said, "In the interim, should patients needing inpatient psychiatric care present at Saint Francis Hospital Muskogee, a transfer to an appropriate psychiatric facility will be coordinated."
Since the transition began, patients who were inpatient there were either transferred to Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital, which is part of the Saint Francis Health System, or were able to be discharged to home, Landwerlin said.
The only other mental health crisis unit in Muskogee is run by Green Country Behavioral Health Services.
The GCBHS unit is an Adult Crisis Center which provides non-hospital emergency services for adults 18 and older with mental health, substance abuse, or co-occurring issues -- but people can only be admitted there for up to three days, according to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
GCBHS Chief Executive Officer Joy Sloan said that it typically serves a different population of patients than the Pavilion did, but the loss of the mental health unit at the local hospital will likely impact the community.
"Anytime you lose a big community partner like that, there's no question there is harm to the community," she said. "As of right now, we haven't seen any negative effects of that. Our unit is only 16 beds, so we could potentially have a problem in Muskogee. But we also have a pretty aggressive array of outpatient services, and we'll do what we can."
Sloan said the most concerning loss with the temporary suspension is of the hospital's behavioral health urgent care model.
"They were able to hold someone for 23 hours and 59 minutes before being admitted to the hospital. So for people that are maybe intoxicated, maybe need to sober up over a few hours then they are okay -- or maybe someone whose experienced an event that's left them despondent and they need to be kept safe for a few hours, anytime during that 24-hour period, they can decide to admit them, send them for outpatient services or send them for a higher level of care," Sloan said. "I think we're going to feel the effects of losing that far more than we will the inpatient unit."
Sloan said GCBHS would like to replicate that "model of care," but they have "the same budget issues as everybody, so it's just a matter of re-allocating some resources."
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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