BETHANY — Deaconess Hospital plans to close a Bethany medical facility that provides almost 60 inpatient adult psychiatric beds, further straining the regional medical care system for those with severe mental illness.
Bethany Hospital CEO Cathryn Hibbs said in a news release that closing Deaconess at Bethany in February was a difficult decision to make.
“We are committed to providing the most needed, quality care,” she said.
“These are challenging times for hospitals, and we all must carefully consider how we apply our resources. The decision to close Deaconess at Bethany was difficult, but we are focused on providing the services and therapies that benefit the largest number of patients in our community.”
Deaconess at Bethany provides “a small percentage of the overall inpatient psychiatric services available in the community,” according to the hospital. The average census for short-term behavioral health services is 25 patients, even though the campus has 57 beds available, according to the hospital.
The closure includes the loss of almost 60 inpatient adult psychiatric beds, which will affect about 70 employees, according to a letter the hospital's CEO wrote to the hospital's board and staff.
Kai Gerkey, a spokesman for Oklahoma City-based Deaconess Hospital, said he was unable to comment about what would happen to these employees.
Meanwhile, mental health and law enforcement officials say the closure will further pressure Oklahoma's mental health system.
A majority of people in Oklahoma who need mental health treatment do not receive it.
The state ranks among the top 10 states of adults struggling with mental illness.
Terri White, the state's mental health commissioner, said less psychiatric care options mean more problems.
“The department is very concerned about loss of any psychiatric beds, particularly this number of beds, given that we already have an issue where law enforcement is driving hundreds of miles trying to find someone a psychiatric bed,” White said. “The system is already overloaded.”