About 100 employees are expected to be laid off as the state Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Department closes a Norman substance abuse treatment center for adults and eliminates all of the state’s 40 mental health beds for children at another Norman facility. Plans also call for closing a men’s treatment center in Tahlequah, as well as tightening operations at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman. The $7.3 million in cuts are the result of additional 5 percent cuts in monthly state allocations the agency has to make through June. All state agencies and departments have been told to expect monthly 5 percent cuts to continue through June. The state board governing the department approved the plans during its meeting Friday. "We are hoping and keeping our fingers crossed that this is it,” Terri White, the state’s mental health commissioner, told board members. "It could get worse, that’s what scares me. ... This agency cannot take any more cuts without even more dire consequences.” Legislative leaders are pushing for more cuts to make up for revenues that have come in more than 20 percent below estimates for the first third of this fiscal year. The department’s staff will work out details on the plan, but it’s estimated 100 employees will lose their jobs, White said. The department still is identifying which positions will be cut; employees will go through a reduction-in-force process and probably will be laid off in December or January. These most recent cuts will bring to about $16 million the budget cuts that the department has made since the start of the fiscal year. The department’s state budget is about $200 million this fiscal year; it also receives another $100 million in mostly federal dollars. It employs about 2,200 people. Plans call to merge the Norman Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, a 60-resident substance abuse facility, and the Children’s Recovery Center. The 40 mental health treatment beds to be eliminated will be converted into substance abuse treatment beds. The center, to be developed in the recovery center building, will have 15 substance abuse treatment beds for patients age 5 to 17, and 40 substance abuse treatment beds for adults. The department also plans to close the Bill Willis Community Mental Health Center in Tahlequah. It has about 20 beds for men. Plans call for adding 28 beds at the Rose Rock Recovery Center in Vinita, which provides specialized treatment for women, including women who are pregnant or have dependent children. More adult substance abuse treatment beds will be available at the Lighthouse center in Woodward. The moves result in a net loss of about 36 adult substance abuse beds in addition to the loss of all 40 children mental health beds in the state, White said. "Our hope is that the children we serve, who are primarily Medicaid eligible, will be able to access other services that already exist in the community such as community hospitals that operate adolescent behavioral health units,” White said. On any day, the state has a waiting list of 600 to 900 Oklahomans waiting to get a residential center substance abuse treatment bed, she said. The current availability of adolescent substance treatment beds will not decline. "The biggest gap in the system is for kids who need substance abuse treatment,” White said. "About 90 percent of kids in Oklahoma who need substance abuse treatment don’t get it.” Employees losing their jobs work in the centers where reductions are taking place and at Griffin Memorial, a psychiatric hospital.Comments
• Merging the Children’s Recovery Center and the Norman Alcohol Drug Treatment Center: $3.8 million.
• Closing the Bill Willis Community Mental Health Center in Tahlequah and restructuring beds at centers in Vinita and Woodward: $1.4 million.
• Griffin Memorial Hospital modernization plan: $1 million.
• Reducing mental health provider contracts: $500,000.
• Reducing substance abuse provider contracts: $185,000.
• Reducing advocacy contracts: $410,000.
• Implementing, from January to June, one-day-a-month furloughs for the mental health commissioner and four administrators: $16,283.