The Oklahoma City Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend denying Cedar Ridge Hospital a permit to house adult psychiatric patients at its northeast Oklahoma City campus after a contentious hearing where residents from the area said they were concerned about runaways from the facility.
“This company has a history of noncompliance,” northeast Oklahoma City resident Richard Scroggins said at the hearing. “We need to know in our community that we can trust them, and that has not been proven at this point.”
Police logs show that there have been 13 calls for service from Cedar Ridge in the past 12 months to report runaways from the facility. Two of the calls were for adult patients, the remaining 11 calls were to report runaway juvenile patients, records show.
Cedar Ridge CEO Kevan Finley said that runaways, or elopements, as the hospital calls them, are uncommon at Cedar Ridge. He said the company is working to improve security by installing a fence and security cameras.
“We are concerned and we also want to be a good neighbor,” Finley said. “Those who suffer from mental illness are not likely to be violent, but they do need help.”
The Pennsylvania-based company Universal Health Services Inc. purchased Cedar Ridge about eight years ago, when it had already housed adult patients for several years. The company claims it was unaware until recently that it was licensed by the city to house only juvenile patients at its hospital at 6501 NE 50.
The hospital has used 36 beds of its 116-bed capacity to house adult patients since at least 2003.
Several planning commissioners expressed disbelief that Universal Health Services would have been unaware that the facility was licensed to house only juvenile patients when it purchased the property.
“I don’t understand how one company purchases another company without checking this out,” Ward 4 Commissioner Jim Allen said.
Ward 6 Planning Commissioner Bob Bright said it’s standard for attorneys to do an extensive review before a sale, and the seller typically has to certify that the business is in good legal standing.
“There is no way in the world that this was missed,” Bright said.
Carrie Slatton-Hodges, deputy commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said the loss of mental health beds for adults at Cedar Ridge would exacerbate an already extreme shortage of psychiatric beds in the state.
“It would be a tremendous loss to Oklahoma County to lose these beds,” Slatton-Hodges said. “We have a great shortage of psychiatric beds ... and we have to rely heavily on the private sector to provide these beds.”
Cedar Ridge’s application to house adult patients will be heard next by the Oklahoma City Council in about six weeks. The Planning Commission’s vote is only a recommendation for denial.