In an attempt to lighten an increasing demand for mental health care, leaders at Integris Health say they’ve increased the number of inpatient adult psychiatric beds available at their facilities, responding to a recent closure of a large facility in Bethany.
Integris will open a mental health unit at Southwest Medical Center in late June to treat residents 55 and older and has remodeled a unit at its Spencer mental health facility to include 24 adult inpatient beds for residents ages 18 to 65.
Dr. R. Murali Krishna, president, chief operating officer and medical director of Integris Mental Health, said that after Deaconess Hospital announced it would close its Bethany hospital with roughly 60 inpatient adult psychiatric beds, Integris leadership decided to help replace the lost care.
“We as Integris Health are responding to the crisis and the lack of enough adult mental health beds in Oklahoma, especially the Oklahoma City area,” Krishna said. “Deaconess Hospital closed their units in the early part of the year, and that has caused a significant problem for a lot of the patients who needed inpatient care.”
The demand for mental health care in Oklahoma is high, because Oklahoma has the second-highest rate of adults with serious mental illness in the nation, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
A majority of Oklahoma adults who need mental health services — about 70 percent — do not get them, according to the state’s mental health agency. Additionally, the state has the 13th-highest suicide rate in the nation.
Krishna said after researching community need, Integris identified that it needed to focus on the three most prevalent health issues that Oklahomans face — obesity, heart disease and mental health concerns.
“Mental illness is poorly understood by most people, not only from the stigma standpoint but also not having an adequate understanding that these (are) brain disorders,” said Krishna, who serves on the state’s Board of Health. “Just like you have kidney, heart and lung diseases, these are disorders of a main organ of the body — the brain.”
Closure in Bethany
Deaconess Hospital announced in December that it would close its Bethany location, which included its mental health unit that could serve about 60 residents.
Deaconess cited a decline in reimbursements and demand for inpatient hospital care as reasons to close its Bethany location.
Since that time, Integris has worked to renovate a medical surgical unit at Southwest Medical Center to serve as a psychiatric unit for residents 55 and older. The floor will have 24 beds available to treat these adult patients and will host an open house and ribbon cutting Tuesday. The unit replaced about 19 beds that were at Deaconess for geriatric patients.
Staff at Southwest will treat patients not only for dementia related to behavioral health issues, but also will focus on helping residents who are struggling with depression and other mental health issues.
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