Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007

LMH won’t reopen mental health unit

December 20, 2007


LMH will not pursue new mental health unit

A new mental health unit is not in the future for Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Enlarge video

The new emergency department of Lawrence Memorial Hospital will have more space devoted to the treatment of psychiatric conditions, but the hospital does not have any plans to reopen the mental health unit it closed in 2004.

LMH leaders on Wednesday said new numbers show the hospital has about 30 patients per month who need to be transferred to hospitals in Topeka or Kansas City to receive mental health treatment.

But LMH's board of trustees was told that number is still not large enough to allow the hospital to reopen a mental health unit.

Hospital board members also were told at their monthly meeting that the hospital's system of providing interim treatment until a patient can be transferred to another hospital is working well.

"I think we really are working hard to have a seamless program to provide services to all our patients," said Dana Hale, LMH vice president of nursing. "We provide them with a pathway to get the mental health care that they need."

When the hospital's new emergency department opens in early March, it will have more space devoted to caring for mentally ill patients. Currently, the emergency department has two safe rooms that are used exclusively to treat mental health patients who are in crisis. The rooms provide a safe place for patients to be screened by a mental health worker or serve as a monitored area where patients can wait to be transferred to a mental health unit elsewhere.

The new emergency department will have three safe rooms and a dedicated nursing area to support the rooms. The rooms also will be equipped with video cameras to provide extra security and patient safety, Hale said.

Some mental health care advocates are still hoping for more. Alan Miller, a real estate agent who has served on area mental health boards, said the hospital's emergency room services are not a substitute for an inpatient unit. Miller said mental health patients often suffer by receiving care outside the city because it pulls them away from their support system of friends and family.

"To have to go out of the area is many times a hardship," Miller said. "So many people with a mental illness have used up the resources they have, and to have family travel distances to be with loved ones is often very difficult, and a lot of times it just doesn't happen."

Janelle Martin, executive director of the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project, said her group is monitoring the demand for mental health services in the county. A 2006 report by a CHIP task force estimated about 15 patients per day are needed to operate a full-functioning mental health unit.

Martin said CHIP has appointed a subcommittee to monitor mental health issues in the county. The group - which has met about six times since March - includes Douglas County Commissioner Bob Johnson; City Commissioner Boog Highberger; Gene Meyer, president and CEO of LMH; David Johnson, CEO of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; Marcia Epstein, director of Headquarters Counseling Center; and Elizabeth Smith, a community representative.

LMH closed its mental health unit in 2004 amid concerns of low patient volume and an inability to find enough doctors to staff the unit. The nonprofit hospital contends it did not close the unit for financial reasons.

The hospital does provide inpatient mental health care to patients who have been admitted to the hospital for a physical condition but also have a mental health condition. The hospital is operating that program at a loss of about $150,000 through the first 11 months of this year.


coolmarv 10 years, 2 months ago

Where will I go when my wife finally drives me crazy?

Steve Jacob 10 years, 2 months ago

As I say over and over again, people with cancer have more money then people needing mental health care.

cowboy 10 years, 2 months ago

The acute crisis patient that shows up at the ER is not going to be cured in a few hours or days. The only issue is to protect , stabilize and refer to an appropriate treatment program. Any social worker or MD can handle this situation.

coneflower 10 years, 2 months ago

Mental illness is underrated and undertreated - everywhere. If someone your care about has not experienced it, it's difficult to appreciate how devastating and debilitating it is. As someone said above, cancer gets everything - money, sympathy, understanding, support. If someone is mentally ill, they and their loved ones pretty much fight the battle alone. And most ironically, the mentally ill people who get help are the ones well enough to work the system and get it. The ones who really, really need it are unable to advocate for themselves well enough to jump through all the right hoops and simply demand the help they need.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 2 months ago

mac, I disagree with you. if our community made a large enough commitment, and there were enough financial resources, the 'staffing problem' could easily be dealt with in no time at all.
if we are willing, we can have a mental health unit, if we are willing to commit enough resources. it is a matter of community priorities. right now, 2% for every public construction project goes to "art." there's a sizable pool of money over time. in effect, by making that choice, our community values "art" over saving lives and providing needed mental health care. what is written in the artile is correct, going out of town removes a mentally disturbed person from a lot of support right at the time it is most needful.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 2 months ago

"where there is no vision the people perish."

guesswho 10 years, 2 months ago

Even with money, it is hard to find a psychiatrist, and you would need 3 or so to staff 24/7 365 days a year, and even then, you may not get them because quite honestly, it may not be that challenging for a psychiatrist - they are MDs and appreciate their work.

pace 10 years, 2 months ago

The housing facilities are closed across the state, The official referral is either live beneath the bridge or the homeless shelters.

ksdivakat 10 years, 2 months ago

There is quite a lack of resources here in lawrence, but when that unit first opened if i recall correctly there was only 1 psychiatrist on staff, and then towards the end there were 2. There is new organization in town, its called "Pathways Guidance Group", and from my understanding they are awesome over there, they are really growing by leaps and bounds daily! So check them out if you know someone who needs some help.

rumor_man 10 years, 2 months ago

All of these posts are driving me crazy.

Farmboy 10 years, 2 months ago

Most of the homeless on Mass and at least a third of people in county jail are in need of mental health care. And most psychiatrists don't want to care for them.

What Kansas needs is to open up state hospitals again.

kukate 10 years, 2 months ago

Once again... Posters on the LJW that have NO idea what they are talking about. Not all mentally ill are homeless and not all homeless are mentally ill.

Also, DFTB, I'm not sure if you are talking about mentally ill people coming to Lawrence if (and only if) a unit is open... Surprise, they're already here. Pretending a problem doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.

blackwalnut 10 years, 2 months ago

Farmboy: A friend who lives in Topeka told me how much trouble Topeka has had ever since Menninger's mental hospital was closed. All the mentally ill people just joined the ranks of the homeless. They are still paying the price there.

Just dumping the homeless out on the street was unconscionable. I know someone who desperately needs help and is inches away from being homeless and there is literally no place for him to go, no where to get help. Social Security disability applications are backlogged 3 years and they routinely turn everyone down the first time - so 6 years until you get a real answer.

kukate 10 years, 2 months ago

Once again, dumb comments from the posters...

Windlass, Don't talk about something if you have no clue. There are family members of the mentally ill that are doing every thing humanly possible to help their loved ones. Until you've walked a day in their shoe's, keep your trap SHUT.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 2 months ago

"Build it and they will come, Feed them and they will stay. Not having this here is good for the Lawrence taxpayer."

"I would fix a rope around my throat and leave this world before I would ever cross the threshold of another mental health facility."

"Flush the world of all mental health centers if you care about yourself, your family, your friends, and your wallet." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's these type of people that make me really get frustrated with Lawrence. The minimally educated with big mouths who are not smart enough to realize how dumb they are and how ridiculous they sound. Anymore, half the posters on these forums make me physically ill. Here's a thought: Try exercising a little freaking compassion, especially when you have no idea of the sh*t-filled lives many of your fellow human beings have to wade through every dismal day.

Susan Lee 10 years, 2 months ago

It is so sad that everyone does not have compassion for those that have nothing and for those who suffer a disease. Mental illness is NOT a choice. The only difference between a mental illness and cancer is that a portion of the general population imagines that there IS a difference. Quite frankly, I don't think it matters how much money one has, what wonderful insurance coverage you is extremely difficult to find COMPETENT mental help, and it is getting more difficult each year. Here are some of the examples that our family has experienced - please keep in mind that we have the best insurance available and were able to travel even out of state seeking help: l. A psychiatrist visited with me for TWENTY MINUTES and told me I would need to take anti-depressants every day for the rest of my life.
2. One of my children was in a highly regarded hospital program in KC for an eating disorder. The only psychiatrist for that program was Egyptian - and barely spoke English. He would sit and ask my child "what do you think is wrong with you???" 3. Counselors at Bert Nash would double and triple dosages of anti-depressants if a patient talked about a problem they were experiencing instead of discussing solutions. (these happened to 4 that I personally know of, and I live several hours away from Lawrence) 4. I see families where one child has a mental illness, and the prescribing psychiatrist medicates ALL of the children in the family. 5. I have seen psychologists and psychiatrists tell a parent that they just don't know what to do, and ask the parent if they have any ideas!

I could go on and on...The closing of the state hospitals, many private hospitals and programs and LMH wing speak volumes about how we view those with a mental illness. As another reader said, unless you have seen a loved one suffer, you have no idea of the absolute hell of mental illness.
I have no answers, I only pray that future generations will be more enlightened and compassionate and willing to spend tax dollars on helping people instead of feeding a war machine. Recent studies estimate that TWENTY percent of all children and TWENTY-FIVE percent of all adults suffer from a mental illness (or addiction, for adults.) For those of you who cannot understand the depth of suffering that mental illness brings to an individual and to their family, you have been truly blessed. It is agony. There but for the grace of God go I......

ksdivakat 10 years, 2 months ago

Isnt talking about getting "rid" of mentally ill people a Hitler mentality?? After reading some of these posts, im hoping that none of you are EVER in charge of anything other than a pet! Other wise, Im afraid this country could see a mass genocide of mentally ill people cause people like you dont want to deal with them.....what a nice sentiment you all post at the holidays! God bless you and Merry Christmas anyway!

Jason Bowers-Chaika 10 years, 1 month ago

Windlass, don't walk run to the nearest mental health provider. You are a fine example of a person who has fallen through the cracks of a system that needs revamping. Above you have mentioned both hanging yourself and now getting a gun. You present an emminant danger to yourself and to others. You meet criteria for involuntary committment. That said, a person with mental illness is also a part of the equation. Meds don't work if they are not taken consistently and a patient has to actively participate in their own recovery.

Family members can and are a good source of support for many mentally ill persons. However, mental illness has a genetic link and sometimes the family is a contributing factor in the patient in question. Mental health professionals can treat the patient till Jesus comes again but if the patient returns to the same sick/disfunctional environment the results will be minimal.

As for abuse, neglect, and exploitation of persons with disabilities it is an unfortunate fact that it happens. There are avenues to take should it occur. Adult protective services will investigate any claim. Individual agencies also have their own internal ways to reduce the potential for abuse by educating the patient as to what their rights are and how to report violations.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

paranoia...paranoid schizophrenia? needs meds.

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