The Psychiatry Department said OU Medical Center's mental health unit will be closed because of space, funding, and staffing issues.
Those with the Jesus House in Oklahoma City, where those diagnosed with mental health problems can try to find some peace, said the closing is a huge blow to the community.
Jesus House and the Oklahoma County Crisis Center rely on the OU Medical Center to stabilize those who are a danger to themselves or others and need longer term care in a locked facility.
By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- OU Medical Center will no longer offer inpatient mental health services this fall.
The general psychiatry inpatient unit at OU Medical Center will close in August 2010, according to a statement released by a spokesperson for the Department of Psychiatry at the OU College of Medicine.
"The hospital and the Psychiatry Department face issues of space, funding, and staffing, and declining demand for inpatient psychiatric care at OU Medical Center," according to the statement. "The OUHSC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences is exploring partnerships with programs in the community to identify collaborations that offer expanded psychiatric inpatient care and a greater range of community experiences for OUHSC medical students and trainees."
Since mental health patients typically stay no longer than a couple of weeks, no current patients will be affected.
New patients will be evaluated and will have any medical conditions stabilized. If new patients need mental health services, they will be transferred to another facility.
Jan Mercer, the director of Jesus House, said news of the closure is a huge blow for the community.
"We already don't have enough resources for the mentally ill. This is not a good sign. Everyone should be concerned. It's a safety issue when the mentally ill cannot get the care they need," Mercer said.
Mercer said trying to find open beds for the mentally ill has already been a problem that has been made worse by budget cuts in the last year.
Mercer said the mental health services unit at OU Medical Center is especially crucial because of its acceptance of the uninsured. It makes them the first fallback when places like the Oklahoma County Crisis Center and Jesus House hit capacity.
"This leaves fewer places who have no other alternative for care to seek care and to find care," said Carrie Slatton-Hodges.
Slatton-Hodges is the Deputy Commissioner of Mental Health Services for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
"Any loss of psychiatric beds in Oklahoma is a hardship to all Oklahomans in particularly OU where they treat many individuals who do not have any private insurance," Slatton-Hodges said.
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