ADMH to close state mental health facilities

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Because of a lack of beds, Fuhrmeister said allegedly dangerous individuals remain in the community for an extended period of time.

“I am concerned that closing the state hospitals will increase the pressure on the beds currently available to us and our wait times will become even longer,” Fuhrmeister said. “People subject to a civil commitment are usually threatening immediate suicide or harm to themselves or others.”

The closings would potentially lay off 958 employees and would leave one facility for criminal cases and one for geriatric patients.

“Some employees are eligible for retirement, and we’re working with community providers and other state agencies to try and identify placement for other employees,” Thompson said.

Thompson said some employees would likely transition along with the facilities and continue to provide care for patients in a community setting.

“That’s really a win-win for the patients and employees,” Thompson said. “For the patients, the continuity of care is there, and that will help ensure a successful transition into a new environment.”

Fuhrmeister said one of the positive results of the facilities closing would be the development of new treatment options.

“I think this is going to force innovative treatment options,” he said.

Thompson said the agency has been trending towards making the transition for years.

“At least since 2006, we’ve had a transformation plan to downsize our hospitals,” he said. “The real goal is to take care of these patients in the least restrictive surrounding.”

Fuhrmeister said any concerned citizens could reach out to him or other advocates and legislators to share any concerns or questions.

“They can make their voices heard to me, to their legislators, to the Department of Mental Health, just like any other concern,” Fuhrmeister said. “My whole goal is to make sure consumers get adequate treatment and that our communities are safe.”

ADMH will have a board of trustees meeting on June 13 to determine the next course of action.