Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hospital Bed Closures Under Fire

(August 1, 2012) Media in multiple states are focusing a spotlight on their state hospitals following the July 19 release of “No Room at the Inn,” an examination of trends and consequences of closing state hospitals. The study found that public psychiatric bed numbers have officially plunged to 1850 levels and provides state-by-state data.
californiaIn California, where state hospitals served 5,283 patients in 2010, down 16% from five years earlier, the Los Angeles Times reports, “The vast majority of those beds, about 92%, now are filled by patients from the criminal justice system and are no longer available for those in need of civil commitment” ("Report calls for more inpatient treatment for the mentally ill," July 19)
LouisianaIn Louisiana, the Times-Picayune reports that “Emergency rooms continue to be overwhelmed, and the jails are inundated with mental health patients who committed a crime, often as a result of not getting adequate care. The community-based services that do exist have waiting lists and must often raise the bar on how sick one must be to get served” ("The insanity of mental health care," July 26). 
maineIn Maine, the state’s Public Broadcasting Network reports that “Sheriff's deputies were forced to guard the inmate in the emergency room at Eastern Maine Medical Center around the clock since last Friday evening, while waiting for a forensic bed to open up at the Riverview Psychiatric Center. Maine, like most states across the country, faces a chronic shortage of beds for mentally ill prisoners” ("Shortage of Beds for Mentally Ill Prisoners Poses a Problem," Aug. 1). 
maineIn Alabama, the Birmingham News quotes Kristina Ragosta, a senior legislative and policy counsel at the Treatment Advocacy Center, "Although the study indicates that Alabama has indeed added some beds, they still had less than half the beds recommended—23.4 versus the 50 per 100,000 recommended" ("Psychiatric beds dwindle nationally," July 26).
MichiganAnd, in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press ran a spot-on editorial about the hospital bed shortage we blogged about in "What's Bad for Michigan is Just as Bad for Others" (July 24). 
You can help turn the heat up on policy makers intent on closing hospital beds where you live. “No Room at the Inn: Trends and Consequences of Closing Public Psychiatric Hospitals” contains public hospital bed data for every state. Help us get the word out about the devastating trends and consequences in hospital bed populations:
  • See where your state ranks on our website dedicated to Treatment Advocacy Center research.
  • Send a link to the complete study to reporters, editors and/or producers local newspaper or TV/radio station and say, “The people in our community need to know what’s happening to state hospital beds here and what the consequences are.”
  • Send the link to the study online to the editorial page editor of your local newspaper and suggest, “Please look at this study and consider seconding the call for a moratorium on state hospital bed closures.” Include the link to the Detroit Free Press editorial as an example. 
  • Print a copy of the study in its downloadable form and send it to your governor, state legislator, state mental health director and/or others in a position to determine the fate of state hospital beds in your state and ask them to consider the consequences of closing more public psychiatric beds and heed the call for a moratorium.
  • Visit the Advocacy Tools page at
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