Here is an article that touched close to my heart. I have actually worked at some of the facilities mentioned here. I am sure that this news comes as quite a shock for the existing staff.
Oklahoma has a history of ignoring or negating mental health issues and of removing funding for mental health help. This is not a new experience, but I believe that this event will be felt throughout the entire state.
I can only hope that the children and youth who are being removed from the state facilities can and will find help elsewhere. I also hope the staff who will be misplaced can and do go on to find even better jobs. This really is a tragedy for the state of Oklahoma.
by: BARBARA HOBEROCK
World Capitol Bureau
Saturday, November 14, 2009
11/14/2009 4:46:10 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services approved a plan Friday to cut nearly $7.3 million in spending by closing treatment beds, eliminating about 100 jobs and reducing contracts.
Trish Frazier, Oklahoma Public Employees Association policy and research director, said the action was “hidden” in the agency’s financial report and not clearly identified on the agenda as required by law. If the board violated the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act, its actions are void.
Dewayne Moore, the agency’s general counsel, said he didn’t believe the board violated the Open Meetings Act because it voted on accepting a financial report. Board approval was not required to make the cuts, he said.
But the board also voted separately on the reduction plan, which was not on the agenda.
Terri White, commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, called the cuts “devastating” and said they would result in increased costs to the state for incarceration, foster care, emergency room visits and public safety.
State agencies have been told to cut budgets by 5 percent through the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, in the wake of declining state revenues. Deeper cuts are possible.
The agency’s reduction plan calls for merging the Children’s Recovery Center, based in Norman, and the Norman Alcohol Drug Treatment Center. The Children’s Recovery Center has 55 beds of which 15 are used for substance abuse treatment and 40 are used for mental health treatment. They generally serve children ages 5 to 17. The beds will be converted to focus only on substance abuse and eliminate any public beds for children with mental health problems, White said.
“About 90 percent of kids with substance abuse issues don’t get treatment,” she said.
About 60 beds at the Norman Alcohol Drug Treatment Center will close, she said.
The move is expected to save about $3.8 million.
The plan also calls for closing the Bill Willis Dependency Unit in Tahlequah, which has about 20 beds serving men who are chemically dependent, White said.
But additional beds will open at the Rose Rock Recovery Center in Vinita, which has a capacity of 52 beds serving women, but not all beds are being used. Additional beds will also open at Lighthouse in Woodward, which has 26 beds serving men and women. The beds are for residential substance abuse treatment.
The plan calls for reducing staff at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman and closing buildings to save $1 million.
It also calls for reducing mental health services provider contracts by $500,000. The agency spends about $50 million a year on the contracts.
White said it costs about $2,000 a year to serve a patient needing residential substance abuse services or mental health treatment.
Substance abuse service provider contracts are to be reduced by $185,000. The agency spends about $25 million a year on substance abuse provider contracts, White said.
The agency also will cut $450,000 for advocacy contracts that cover services such as outreach and education. The agency spends about $2 million a year on advocacy contracts, White said.
Finally, the five members of the agency’s leadership team, including White, will take six furlough days to save about $16,283, White said.
The agency employs about 2,200 people and has a budget of $300 million, including about $200 million in state funding.
About 100 employees will be subject to layoffs, White said. Those employees have yet to be identified, she said.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465
Read the original article here
Copyright © 2009, World Publishing Co. All rights reserved
Related articles by Zemanta
- How To Seek Help For Alcoholism (howcast.com)