Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Psychiatric Beds to Return to St. Francois County

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Psychiatric Beds to Return to St. Francois County

Article excerpt

There have been no adult psychiatric hospital beds in St. Francois County for more than a year now, but that may soon change.

A behavioral health provider is seeking approval to open Bridge Tree Behavioral Hospital in Farmington, a 16-bed in-patient psychiatric unit for adults.

For $833,000, Vicky Winick, president of Mineral Area Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center , wants to renovate a current facility at 510 West Pine Street for what would technically be considered a hospital.

Area behavioral health advocates are excited about the news.

Candy Zarcone, president of the St. Francois County Mental Health Board, said the lack of beds for patients with mental health issues had put a strain on area health providers, law enforcement and families of patients in need.

Patients who need mental health care are either forced to wait in the emergency department for days while an inpatient psychiatric bed opens up somewhere else in the state, or they go without care, Zarcone said.

And sometimes, they end up in the county jail, said Dennis Smith, vice president of the mental health board and administrator for the St. Francois County jail.

"When families don't have options, they end up here," Smith said of the jail.

In the last year, he said, more individuals who he believes needed further mental health evaluations have been brought to the jail. A lack of resources meant those individuals were released without being evaluated, he said.

And getting patients to an open psychiatric bed is an issue.

Smith said usually it fell to law enforcement or the local ambulance service to transport them there.

"It takes an ambulance and crew out of our county for a long period of time," Zarcone said.

The lack of adult psychiatric beds stems from BJC HealthCare's decision to get rid of the beds at the end of 2015 after purchasing its only hospital rival in St. …

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