San Antonio Community Hospital Closes Mental Health Department
As part of a cost-cutting strategy, San Antonio Community Hospital stopped accepting new patients to its mental health and substance abuse departments at midnight yesterday, leaving San Bernadino County with only one local mental health inpatient service, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 17 patients whom the hospital is currently treating will continue to receive care there, but other patients will have to go to mental health facilities in Chino or San Bernadino. San Antonio, the only hospital that served mentally ill Medi-Cal adults in the west part of San Bernadino County, is the county's fourth mental health facility to shut down in the last 10 years. The move marks the last "major cost-cutting" measure the hospital will take, San Antonio Community Hospital President George Kuykendall said. The Times reports that the hospital lost more than $11 million last year, and in May lost its Medi-Cal contract. Kuykendall added that the closing is "one more casualty of poor financial performance in the health care industry." The closure was partly because the hospital was not receiving sufficient funds from HMOs and state health programs to pay for its three behavioral medicine departments, he said. Further, the number of patients the hospital cares for has dropped as private insurance has reduced the amount of behavioral health services it will pay for, the Times reports. Joyce Lewis, deputy director of community treatment services for San Bernadino County, said that the closing is a "trend in the shrinking number of hospitals available to the mentally ill." The department's closure also affects about 90 doctors, nurses, managers and staff, the Times reports (Blish, Los Angeles Times, 8/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.