Oklahoma To Use $125M To Build New Behavioral Health Hospitals


Thursday, October 6th 2022, 9:30 pm



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Oklahoma is going to use $125 million to build two new state behavioral health hospitals from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Experts said the key word here is "access," and said as the construction starts near OSU Medical Center next June, they hope barriers to treatment are broken down.

Oklahoma lawmakers said it's their largest ever single investment in behavioral health services; something experts said is imperative after the pandemic.

"I think every state is grappling right now to catch up with a lot of the aftereffects of the pandemic and you would be hard pressed right now to find any state that says they have allocated all the needed resources, just because things have happened so incredibly quickly across our nation," said Dr. Amy Emerson, Pediatrician. "We've all endured trauma for the past few years of one sort or another and so I do think there's an opportunity for our state to allocate even more resources towards this need. And I'm happy to say it looks like our state legislators have actively been looking at that doing that over the past week so there is money that's being allocated towards potentially a new behavioral health hospital and other initiatives across our state."

"For too long we've made do with out-of-date facilities and tried to update and retrofit those facilities to make them work, but really they haven't been able to support the incredible changes that have been occurring within behavioral health," said Jeff Dismukes, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services.

Jeff Dismukes with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services said the behavioral health field has made major strides and needs the space to support that.

"Brain health is probably the most exciting area of medicine right now," said Dismukes. "There are different types of imaging and different procedures to where we can really see now what's happening in the brain. We can see medications and if they're working the way they're supposed to be working. There are so many different sciences, and we see links now to other illness that might be a physical illness that will contribute in different ways."

The new hospital replaces the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health and will have 50 new beds, 106 total, plus a crisis urgent care. This is done in partnership with the City of Tulsa OSU. Dismukes said the total cost is $70 million with $38 million in ARPA funding and donor investments.

“I should have been one of those statistics and my family struggled with addiction, mental health, poverty and I thank God every day that I didn't fall into those generational cycles that my family has struggled with for years,” said First Lady Sarah Stitt.

First Lady Sarah Stitt's passion for mental health treatment brought her to Washington DC to ask for even more federal help.

"The one thing we have in Oklahoma is we have a lot of statistics and so Oklahoma has 900 diagnosed mental health cases per 1 practicing clinician," said Sarah Stitt. "[A]s a state and a community in Oklahoma we have to support our next generation of Oklahomans. We have to find a way to teach them how to fight what is holding them down, and we know in Oklahoma we're not unfamiliar with the poverty, the incarceration rates, the large foster care rate."

The completion date for the Tulsa hospital is set for November 2024.

$87 million dollars in federal funding will go toward replacing Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman; the cost is estimated around $137 million and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2026.

Dismukes said the psychiatric hospital will have 330 beds, including 275 adult beds and 55 adolescent beds. 

Related Story: Okla. First Lady, Other First Spouses Visit HHS For Child Mental Health Summit

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