San Jose Hospital Cuts Acute Psychiatric Care – San Jose Spotlight
The impending closure of an inpatient psychiatric facility has the potential to worsen an ongoing mental health crisis in Santa Clara County, which has an acute shortage of beds and behavioral health services.
Good Samaritan Hospital plans to close its 18-bed inpatient psychiatric facility at the Mission Oaks Hospital site in Los Gatos. Its parent company, HCA Healthcare, has announced it will close those services on August 20. The closure will potentially lead to an 8 percent decrease in inpatient psychiatric acute beds, exacerbating ongoing mental health issues in the county.
There are approximately 211 inpatient psychiatric beds in the county: 80 beds at San Jose Behavioral Health Hospital, 36 beds at El Camino Hospital, 29 beds at Stanford Hospital, 48 beds at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, and 18 beds at Mission Oaks.
Uday Kapoor, chairman of the Santa Clara County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board of directors, said the closure could have dire consequences by creating an even greater shortage of inpatient psychiatric beds.
It was a shock at first and then a lot of sadness because it could cause a lot of problems for the community, which is already in a state of crisis due to lack of acute care for people, Kapoor told the San José Spotlight.
According to the California Hospital Association’s 2018 Annual Report on Psychiatric Beds, Santa Clara County has just under 13 acute care beds per 100,000 people. It is short 960 beds to meet the needs of its residents.
The pending closure comes as the county continues to struggle with its ongoing mental health and substance use crisis. Local officials declared a mental health crisis early last year, pointing to a record increase in suicides and drug overdoses, inadequate number of beds in treatment facilities and overuse of prisons for those in need. care. In the prison population alone, as of Tuesday about 23 percent, or 687 of the 2,988 people incarcerated, have a mental illness.
The Mission Oaks facility provides services to patients requiring 24-hour treatment or medically supervised care for chemical dependency detoxification. It is also one of only four facilities in the county that accepts both public and private insurance, with El Camino, Stanford and San Jose Behavioral Health hospitals being the other three. The county does not accept psychiatric patients with private insurance, and health care providers like Kaiser Permanente only accept psychiatric patients who are members of its system.
The Good Samaritan said he could no longer find qualified staff for the behavioral health unit to enable it to remain open.
The Good Samaritan has done everything in its power to staff the behavioral health unit, including a telehealth option, a hospital spokesman in the San José Spotlight said. Unfortunately, in the post-pandemic healthcare ecosystem, we are unable to find qualified personnel for this unit. Staff shortages are not unique to the Good Samaritan and are a national problem.
Good Samaritan is also closing its Mission Oaks Pediatric Intensive Care Unit because the department has treated fewer patients in recent years.
Retired state Senator Jim Beall, who spearheaded passage of several mental health reform bills, said the closure of the Mission Oaks psychiatric unit not only has the potential to overburden other facilities in the area, but it also places greater responsibility on Santa Clara County.
The county will bear the burden of responding because it is the mental health provider of last resort, Beall told the San Jos Spotlight. If we lose those beds, there’s gonna be a big tax problem with the county.
Michael Fitzgerald, consultant, adviser for NAMI, and former executive director of Mental Health and Addiction Services at El Camino, said Good Samaritan should consider alternatives, if possible, before closing Mission Oaks.
This is an opportunity given this crisis to bring together organizations, the county, other hospital providers and others in the community to engage in a substantive or important discussion about how to address these unmet needs, Fitzgerald said.
If the hospital complies with the August 20 closure of Mission Oaks, psychiatric licenses belonging to the hospital will also terminate if management fails to consider other uses of behavioral health.
State Sen. Dave Cortese said his office is exploring options the state needs to help, but it remains unclear.
“Losing others (psych beds) is a huge blow,” Cortese told the San José Spotlight. “It really takes us in exactly the wrong direction… It should be everyone’s concern. And we will certainly continue to support each other and try to understand what we can do as a state to intervene in the situation.
Contact Julia Forrest at[email protected]or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.
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