New mental health crisis center opens in Oklahoma
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2013
2/24/13 at 7:47 AM
The first of two, possibly three, new mental health outpatient crisis-stabilization centers in the state has opened.
A center in Ardmore opened Monday, according to Jeff Dismukes, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
A second center, located in Tulsa and operated by Family & Children's Services, should be open within six weeks. The agency is still in contract negotiations with property owners for the location of the site and should have an announcement in two weeks.
The initiative for the Tulsa and Ardmore crisis centers was announced in September at the National Zarrow Mental Health Symposium.
Gov. Mary Fallin has requested additional funding this year for mental health, part of which would go to open a third crisis center in an as yet to be determined location, Dismukes said.
The Tulsa center - to be called Pavilion 23 - will be based on a new national model of 23-hour observation care.
The crisis centers are a direct response to police officers having to take time away from their patrol duties to transport mental health patients to open psychiatric beds in areas as far away as the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The Tulsa center will create a new point of entry for psychiatric crisis services where staff can triage individuals and route them to the appropriate level of care, Family & Children's Services CEO Gail Lapidus said.
With the 23-hour observational care model, emergency room patients are put into an observation room bed instead of being admitted and they can be watched for 23 hours. If at the end of that time they don't need a bed, then they can go home.
Pavilion 23 will have the capacity to treat up to 30 people at a time in an observation care setting for up to 23 hours instead of them automatically being sent to a psychiatric bed.
"So you come in very depressed, you've been on the streets, the police picked you up and don't know if you need a bed. Instead of sending you across the state, we can keep you," Lapidus said.
The center will offer medical care, food, observation, therapy and other support services.
"The idea is that many people with mental health disorders are on a medication that either they lose or decide not to take or it quits working and they often present a very agitated, concerned state of being in emergency rooms or psychiatric facilities. And if that's the case, it doesn't take very long to get people restabilized," Lapidus said. "We make sure they have food - so many of them are indigent and poor - and warmth, a place to live, a doctor to take care of medical needs."
If a person's situation has stabilized after 23 hours, they can be set up for outpatient treatment. If not, they will be sent to a psychiatric bed.
Lapidus said the idea is that a certain population winds up in a bed because it's the only system of care available and that 23-hour observation will free up those beds.
"Some people are still going to need a bed, no doubt about it. Some people's mental illness just wreaks havoc with them and it takes awhile for medicine to work. So if they couldn't be safe going home from self-harm or harming others, it's good to have a bed for that," she said. "This is going to add a whole new capacity to divert from hospitals and have people have more robust care."
State-mandated budget cuts during the recession resulted in fewer psychiatric beds.
"So maybe Tulsa County didn't have any beds but maybe Fort Supply did. They were trying to use the statewide system and move those people to where there was a bed," Lapidus said. "That created unnecessary trauma for the patient themselves, who were handcuffed and sometimes shackled in the back of a police car, taken to a strange city. And of course, it created a burden on law enforcement in each of the cities."
The new center will coincide with a partnership between Hillcrest and the OSU Medical Center that will provide 16 new adult inpatient psychiatric beds.
Currently the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health, which is operated by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, has 56 beds.
The stabilization center and additional beds are funded by a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Original Print Headline: New mental health crisis center opens
Mike Averill 918-581-8489