Citing Potential Crisis – RN’s Demand Tri-City Medical Center Keep Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Open
Registered nurses are demanding that Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California keep the doors open at its two inpatient psychiatric facilities.
The RNs warn that closing the facilities will leave vulnerable, mentally ill people in desperate need of clinically appropriate mental health care without any place to receive services.
The hospital says it intends to permanently close the 18 bed locked behavioral health unit (BHU) and 12 bed crisis stabilization unit (CSU) by October 2nd.
“It’s heartbreaking. Everyone agrees there is mental health epidemic in this country, but no one is dealing with it. Right now when we can’t admit patients in crisis, we call other hospitals and there are no beds for them,” says psychiatric nurse Phyllis Mason. “My fear is that these patients will be discharged to the streets. We know without proper treatment, they will end up in jail, or victimized, or they can resort to self-harm, including suicide.”
RN’S and community leaders are joining together to alert the public to this potential public health crisis, and to demand action from Tri-City Medical Center.
What: Community Rally & Informational Picket
When: August 23 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Tri-City Medical Center, 4002 Vista Way, Oceanside, California
Speakers: Esther Sanchez, Oceanside City Council Member
Michelle Gomez, San Diego County Supervisorial Candidate
Oceanside City Council member, Esther Sanchez, calls the scheduled closure, “extremely distressing and unacceptable.”
San Diego supervisorial candidate, Michelle Gomez, notes the community members will suffer if the facilities are closed.
“I am deeply concerned with how this closure might negatively impact not only the patients themselves, but also their family and friends who may now have to visit them at other facilities, such as Palomar or Rosecrans,“ says Gomez. “Of course that is contingent upon them finding space at either of those facilities to begin with.“
Community mental health providers say a lack of beds in North County San Diego means longer waits in emergency departments, and fewer police on the streets as officers are needed to transport people in crisis to more distant hospitals for treatment.
San Diego County has seen a dramatic decline in licensed psychiatric beds over the last ten years. In 2008, there were 762 beds in the county, according to OSHPD Hospital Annual Utilization data. As of 2017, that number had dropped by more than 38 percent to 472. The loss of 30 more beds represents a critical loss to an already fragile system.
On Tuesday night, Tri-City Medical Center’s Board of Directors voted a second time to close the BHU during a hastily called public meeting. Tri-City RN Veronica Glaser, a longtime psychiatric nurse, says it was clear the board had no intention of changing its decision and taking into account the concerns of the community.
“The public meeting was just a dog and pony show, so the board of directors could say they listened to public comment.” says Glaser. “It’s obvious to the public that these units are needed. One example of stable mental health is to accept past mistakes and actions and move forward and that is what I urge the hospital to do. Accept the mistakes it made to get us to this point and move forward to keep the doors open for our patients who depend on us.”