After complaints about security and escaped patients from residents in the area, Cedar Ridge Hospital has dropped expansion plans at its campus in northeast Oklahoma City. The hospital instead will opt to take over a psychiatric facility in Bethany that Deaconess Hospital closed earlier this year.
Reopening the Bethany clinic will help alleviate what mental health officials says is a shortage of beds for patients in crisis in Oklahoma.
However’ Cedar Ridge still must gain approval from Oklahoma City officials for a special permit to allow adult patients at its in-patient psychiatric hospital at 6505 NE 50.
Although Cedar Ridge has accepted adults for in-patient treatment for the past decade, its special permit with Oklahoma City allows the facility to house only adolescent patients. Cedar Ridge has 116 in-patient beds, 36 of which are reserved for adult patients.
The psychiatric hospital discovered that it was licensed to house only adolescent patients when it began to prepare a now-scrapped expansion plan for the hospital. Cedar Ridge has accepted adult patients since at least 2003, when the hospital was owned and operated by a different company, said attorney David Box, who is representing Cedar Ridge in its application with the city.
“When we were first hired, the application pending before the Planning Commission was to expand from 116 beds to 140,” Box said. “That has since been taken off the table, and it was not known until the expansion plans that the old special permit was in place.”
The Oklahoma City Planning Commission is scheduled Thursday to consider Cedar Ridge’s application to revise its permit to allow for adult patients at the facility. Residents in the area have submitted a petition asking for the city to deny Cedar Ridge a special permit, after reports of runaway patients from the facility.
According to Oklahoma City police records, there have been 13 calls for service from Cedar Ridge in the past 12 months to report runaways from the facility — referred to by the hospital as “elopements.” Eleven of the 13 calls for service were in reference to juvenile patients, according to police records.
Adult patients at Cedar Ridge are considered to be acute patients and are not allowed outside at the hospital, but juvenile patients who have outside recreational time and who also attend school on the hospital grounds sometimes attempt to leave without permission, Cedar Ridge CEO Kevan Finley said.
Cedar Ridge staff met with residents in the area in April and have since agreed to build a fence around the juvenile grounds, as well as install security cameras.
“We treat over 2,000 patients a year — 37 have left our property in seven years,” Finley said. “That’s lower than average. These patients aren’t considered a danger to themselves or others. However, a fence would help ease some anxiety and we want to be good neighbors.”
Instead of expanding Cedar Ridge, Universal Universal Health Services Inc., the Pennsylvania-based company that owns Cedar Ridge, has instead opted to take over a closed psychiatric clinic owned by Bethany.
The facility was operated for 12 years by Deaconess Hospital before closing in February. Deaconess cited a decline in reimbursements and demand for inpatient hospital care for the closure.
Universal Health Services is in negotiations with the city of Bethany for a lease agreement to take over the psychiatric clinic at 7600 NW 23.
The Bethany clinic has 57 in-patient beds. Universal Health Services is going through state licensing process and hopes to reopen the Bethany clinic in about eight months, Finley said.
The recent loss of services at the Bethany clinic has exacerbated an already existing shortage of mental health beds in the metro area, according to several letters of support submitted to the Oklahoma City Planning Commission in support of Cedar Ridge’s application for an adult facility license.
Traci Cook, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said in a letter of support it that sometimes can take days to place metro area patients in need of mental health services.
“I have no doubt that further limiting Oklahomans by shutting down an additional 36 psychiatric beds in the Oklahoma City metro area will push individuals who have mental illness back into our hospitals, jails and local community,” Cook said. “This will further cause financial burden and delays in treatment for those who desperately need it.”