The Oklahoma City Council has voted to grant Cedar Ridge Hospital a permit to house adult psychiatric patients at its northeast Oklahoma City campus after a tense hearing Tuesday morning where residents said they feared runaway patients and mental health officials spoke about a lack of psychiatric beds in the community.
Cedar Ridge has been approved to house 36 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 previous special permit with Oklahoma City allowed the facility to house only adolescent patients. Cedar Ridge officials have said they were unaware of the permitting issue until recently.
Terri White, commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, was one of several mental health officials who spoke at the meeting about how the loss of psychiatric beds for adults at Cedar Ridge would put further stress on an already strained system.
One recent weekend, four Oklahoma City police officers had to take people experiencing a mental health crisis to Tulsa for services because there were no available beds in the local area, White said.
“If this were a diabetes center, people would be proud to say it was in their neighborhood, but somehow because we are talking about diseases of the brain, that isn’t the case,” White said. “People with mental illness are in general less violent than the general population.”
Several northeast Oklahoma City residents who spoke at the meeting said they were concerned about Cedar Ridge housing adult patients after a spate of recent runaways from the hospital, although almost all the runaways were juvenile patients.
“I’m concerned not only for my property values, but for my family’s safety,” resident James Henderson said.
Michael Sanders, president of The Gregorys neighborhood homeowners association, said the group had collected about 600 signatures from residents opposed to granting Cedar Ridge a permit for adult patients.
Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis cast the only vote to deny Cedar Ridge a permit after he said hospital officials failed to meet with residents in his district for months after he tried to arrange community meetings to discuss their concerns, he said.
“It took me months on top of months to get Cedar Ridge to attend a community meeting,” Pettis said. “This is a slap in the face to the people in the community.”
Number of calls not large
Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said there have not been an unusually large number of calls for service from Cedar Ridge, except for about 10 juvenile patients and one adult patient who had walked off campus this year and were reported to the department as missing persons.
“It’s not a public safety issue,” Citty said. “It is a critical issue for us to have enough (psychiatric) beds.”
The hospital has agreed to build a fence around part of the Cedar Ridge campus that houses juvenile patients near NE 50 and Air Depot Boulevard, as well as to install security cameras and hold a quarterly outreach meeting with residents. Cedar Ridge also has agreed to not pursue any expansion plans at the facility for at least one year.
“We hope to engage the community in an open dialogue,” said Dennis Box, an attorney for Cedar Ridge.