University Hospital closing part of psych ward

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WHAS11.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 2:10 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- University Hospital in Louisville is shuttering its psychiatric unit for older patients in what hospital administrators call a cost-saving move, leaving about 20 general psych beds.

The hospital's chief executive, Jim Taylor, told The Courier-Journal that officials reluctantly decided to close the unit by the end of the year. The unit has 20 beds reserved for geriatric patients with psychiatric illnesses.

Taylor said the geriatric unit is only about half-full most days and was losing money. The beds will be shifted to other units to ease a shortage of space for nonpsychiatric patients.

Dr. Scott Hedges, vice president for medical services with Seven Counties Services, the regional public mental health agency, said the number of beds available for adult psychiatric patients is " getting squeezed."

Dr. Allan Tasman, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Louisville school of medicine, blamed state budget cuts and low government reimbursement through Medicaid and Medicare for the closure, saying the hospital appeared to have little choice.

"I think the budget problems have gotten to a point where this is now unavoidable," he said.

Public mental health was cut by $20 million under the current state budget-a reduction that follows 13 years without funding increases. But, Hedges said, the demand for mental health services continues to rise.

University Hospital served about 6,350 patients seeking emergency psychiatric help in the fiscal year that ended June 30, he said. Of those, 2,465 were hospitalized, he said. The year before, about 5,600 patients sought emergency psychiatric treatment.

Information from: The Courier-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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