Two New Mental Hospitals To Open In Oklahoma

Friday, December 19th 2014, 7:29 pm
By: News 9

Mental health in Oklahoma is described by many as a "statewide crisis,” and companies from out-of-state are now coming to help.

Two new mental health hospitals are in the works.

Officials at the National Alliance for Mental Illness say it's well known that the state's largest psych facility is the county jail. And many advocates feel that must change.

"All they can do is hold up a piece of cardboard, and I can relate to that," said NAMI Volunteer Augusta Cox.

Seeing panhandlers in Oklahoma, reminds Augusta Cox of her journey six years ago as a financial adviser in the midst of a recession.

"It was a high intense stress time and I started hearing voices," said Cox.

And the treatment she needed almost didn't come in time.

After one suicide attempt and several visits to the ER, Augusta had to wait in a room for four straight days until a bed opened and she could be treated for schizophrenia.

"We would never tell somebody that has cancer or asthma or heart disease to wait until it gets worse because we don't have room for them yet it's laughable," said Traci Cook, M.S. and Executive Director for NAMI.

Augusta is now doing much better, but NAMI Executive Director Traci Cook considers Augusta the lucky few.

"And because of lack or resources we are losing people every day and it's devastating," said Cook.

But some resources are coming to the metro, by way of two mental health hospitals from companies in Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

One mental hospital will be in Bethany and the other just off the Kilpatrick turnpike. In total, adding over 140 new beds.

"It's going to help it's the tip of the ice berg," said Cook.

For the time being, Augusta hopes those beds equal people who won't be left out in the cold.

"People don't get the help they need so it gets worse and worse and worse and worse until they do something really outlandish," said Cox.

The closed Deaconess Hospital will be re-purposed in Bethany. The brand new Kilpatrick Hospital will be complete 12-15 months after digging.

NAMI officials say the amount of beds for mental health patients in Oklahoma is about 8,000 under the national recommendation.