TAHLEQUAH — Bill Willis Community Mental Health Center in Tahlequah still provides outpatient services for 2,000 people but closed its 20-bed men’s substance abuse program in January to save $1.2 million. Now, Executive Director Margaret Bradford said they’ve just been told to trim $300,000. "It has had a severe impact in our community,” Bradford said. "That program was usually at capacity at all times and had a waiting list of between 40 and 60 at any given time.” She said northeast Oklahoma’s only state-operated residential treatment program for men served Wagoner, Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties. "Many of these people were fairly severe in their addiction. Oftentimes we were a last resort to help them. I strongly believe without this type of treatment you’re going to see more and more people end up in the criminal justice system,” Bradford said. She said there’s a risk of people using drugs illegally and going to prison, ultimately costing the state more money than the 30 to 60 day treatment at $120 per day. Bradford said they often must refer male substance abusers to the state-operated program in Woodward five-plus hours away. Those who can pay don’t have to drive as far — about 90 minutes to services in Tulsa, she said.
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services provides residential treatment for about 300 adults and 100 adolescents at 24 state-run and contracted facilities across Oklahoma. More cuts are expected but here are the results of the department’s $17 million budget cut:
• Cut all 26 beds at the Enhanced Residential Services program at Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center in Norman.
• Cut about 30 children’s mental health beds at the Children’s Recovery Center of Oklahoma in Norman.
• Cut all 65 adult substance abuse treatment beds at the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center.
• Closed all 20 men’s residential substance abuse treatment beds at Bill Willis Community Mental Health Center.
• Reduced provider contracts for mental health and substance abuse services at contract facilities statewide.
• Cut 30 inpatient beds at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman.
• Cut 24 beds for patients with both mental health and substance abuse at the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health.