Tahlequah Daily Press

January 24, 2014

New psych wing: St. Mary’s plans to add by end of year

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center is looking to open a psychiatric wing for adults.

The process won’t be quick, but the facility could be opened before the year is out.

St. Mary’s last fall closed its 16-bed skilled nursing unit. Stan Tatum, CEO at St. Mary’s, said the nursing unit was losing money.

“We were losing over $2 million a year in operating that unit,” Tatum said.

Tatum said employees who worked in that unit were transferred to other jobs. Then a decision was made what to do with the space where the skilled nursing unit had been.

“Our plan is to pursue a certificate of need as an adult psychiatric unit,” said Martha Del Toro, director of marketing at St. Mary’s.

“When you consider what would be good to go in a space like that, you consider what is the greatest community need,” Tatum said. “In Oklahoma, there is a huge need for inpatient adult behavior facilities.”

Under state law, psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units and chemical dependency units in general acute hospitals must have approval from the state health department before establishing a new facility.

“We are working on the application right now, but it’s a long way from being any kind of done deal,” Tatum said.

A strategic plan to open an acute psychiatric wing for adults has been presented to Universal Health Services, which owns St. Mary’s, Tatum said.

UHS is no stranger to psychiatric care in Oklahoma. The corporation operates the Cedar Ridge facility in Oklahoma City and the Shadow Mountain facility in Tulsa.

Darlene Simmons, administrative program manager for the state health department, oversees the granting of certificates of need.

“Once St. Mary’s submits its application, one of my staff members has 15 days to review it and see it is complete,” Simmons said.

If additional information is needed, they will have 90 days to provide it, Simmons said.

“Then if it is complete, we do several things,” Simmons said. “We send a notice to the applicant telling them the application is complete, and send a notice to facilities in the area, letting them know we have an application.”

There is a 20-day comment session, during which staff members write an investigation report before an order of need is sent to the state health commissioner for a signature, Simmons said.