Citizens mental health unit might close

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

March 28, 2010 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2010 at 10:29 p.m.

The inpatient psychiatric unit at Citizens Medical Center may be forced to shut its doors Thursday.

Three independent psychiatrists have submitted requests for leave of absence, hospital CEO David Brown confirmed.

However, closing the unit is the last step the hospital wants to take, Brown said.

"The reality is, they may close it for us," he said of the psychiatrists.

The hospital has been fighting to keep the unit open, but, so far, all attempts have been unsuccessful, he said.

"There is some wrangling going on between the psychiatrists and Gulf Bend" Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, he added.

Brown said he did not want to speculate on what the wrangling may be about.

Don Polzin, Gulf Bend executive director, was unavailable for comment.

Two of the psychiatrists, Drs. Robert Lyman, Greg Creager, would not comment on the reason for their leave of absence or about the any problems they might be having with Gulf Bend.

"Yes, they are closing," Lyman said. "The last day will be on the 31st."

Dr. John Bouras, one of the other psychiatrists who helps at the mental health unit, would not comment on the closing of the unit, but did say he is leaving the unit to focus more on his outpatient practice.

"I felt that I would be stretched too thin and burned out if I continued to also do inpatient psychiatric work," he said about working both practices. "I have been very blessed to work together with some dedicated people at the psychiatric unit as well as at other units in the hospital."

County Commissioner Gary Burns, who sits on the Gulf Bend board of trustees, said the unit is important to Victoria's mental health needs.

"We've got a real need for this unit," he said.

A meeting will be held Monday at Gulf Bend to see what else can be done to keep the unit open, he said.

Brown agrees the fight to keep the hospital needs to continue; however, census numbers have shown the patient number to be low.

The unit sees on average four people a day, he said.

"If we don't have a unit, is that going to make much difference?" he asked. "Can those same patients get care else where? I think so. It's just not going to be as close to home.

"We're still working on it. I'm hopeful. I hope it will work out."



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