Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Where Did All The Psych Beds Go?

Roy likes to write about Emergency Departments and Bed Availability for psychiatric patients, but this one came to me, so I'll borrow the topic while he's away.

In the Observer-Dispatch in NY State, Andrew Coates writes in "Guest View: Psych ward closings require public discussions":

The pell-mell closures of inpatient wards at Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center and at other Office of Mental Health (OMH) facilities around the state are unfair and unwise. The cuts will shift costs to localities even as they rob the same communities, especially Utica, of much-needed jobs.

New York state law formerly required a full year of public notification when OMH planned to close or downsize inpatient services.
But last year, Gov. Cuomo wrote into the state budget a provision that authorized ward closures on 30 days’ notice and facility closures on 60 days’ notice.
Coates goes on to say that the Governor has chosen "expediency over community needs.

It may be politically expedient to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to needs of patients with serious mental illness. (Patients who are not exactly known for lavish campaign contributions!)
Yet cutting services to vulnerable patients with no serious public discussion of the impact on our communities, with no regard for the human hardship upon patients and their families, is as irresponsible as it is outrageous.

 In the next day's (2/29) Times Union, Dr. Coates then shared a patient's perspective on the bed closures.  The patient wrote:

For many individuals in Mohawk Valley, no one is really sure where they are going. But they are leaving maybe the only home they ever knew. Maybe the only place they ever felt safe.

Mohawk Valley is not perfect but it’s certainly better than the streets. And now the system has failed them – the system itself is failing. The mental health system is stretched to the breaking point already in NYS. Closings are just going to make it worse. People are going to end up on the street.

 I'll leave the comments to you.  I probably would have found the patient's opinion to be more powerful if she had been previously hospitalized in the facility that is being closed.  

Thanks to Meg for the shout out on this issue!