Family & Children’s Services has partnered with Hillcrest Medical Center and Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health to win a key state contract that will increase the number of inpatient psychiatric beds and reshape behavioral crisis services in Tulsa County.  The improvements will expand the continuum of services available locally and is part of an effort by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Services to enhance crisis services statewide. ODMHSAS received funding during the past legislative to support the effort.


Under the terms of the ODMHSAS contract, F&CS will manage a new-concept, outpatient crisis stabilization unit and HMC will open 16 new adult inpatient psychiatric beds. Currently, TCBH, which is operated by ODMHSAS, has capacity to provide inpatient behavioral health care for just 56 patients.


Gail Lapidus, chief executive officer at Family & Children’s Services, said coordination of new and existing psychiatric crisis service components, including TCBH and the F&CS-operated Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services (COPES) telephone and mobile response system, is an innovative approach.


“This plan builds a new point of entry for psychiatric crisis services in Tulsa County,” Lapidus explained. “Best practices will be used to triage individuals and route them to the most appropriate level of care. By enhancing the system, we expect to improve patient experiences and outcomes, save money and reserve the higher-acuity resources for individuals with the most intensive needs.” 

HMC currently operates a 14 bed adult behavioral health unit and a 72 bed child and adolescent unit. This partnership will allow HMC to open an additional 16 bed adult unit.


“Hillcrest Medical Center is proud to be a part of this innovative program to increase access to behavioral health services in our community,” said Kay Willis, Chief Nursing Officer. “Our multi-disciplinary team of behavioral health professionals focus on providing patients with compassionate and effective care to allow them to return to their lives, healthy and productive. Through this partnership with Family & Children’s Services, we hope to improve mental health care for our patient, their loved ones and our community.”


Statewide, crisis services have been operating at capacity for several years.  Budget cuts and other resource challenges have worsened the situation, and left too few services to address a growing demand.  While the additional beds in Tulsa will not solve all problems, it certainly is a good start, according to ODMHSAS Commissioner Terri White.  


“I am excited about this opportunity,” said White.  “Our goal is to intervene early, and help people avoid the negative consequences that often occur when they are unable to access services.  The increased availability of crisis care is a big part of making that happen, and will be a tremendous benefit to not only people in the Tulsa area, but the statewide treatment system as a whole.”


The short supply of inpatient beds has presented increasing challenges for patients, mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies. When Tulsa’s beds fill up, police officers are forced to transfer individuals needing care to hospitals with available capacity. During the first seven months of 2012, Tulsa Police Department officers conducted 194 trips to hospitals as far away as Fort Supply, in far northwest Oklahoma.


The additional beds and the new outpatient facility are designed to work in tandem. Contract partners believe many individuals currently being treated in inpatient settings could be effectively cared for in the new stabilization unit and through counseling and other services in an outpatient setting.


Tulsa Police Department Major Tracie Lewis agrees and believes the system improvements will have a positive impact on patients, her department and the community as a whole.


“We come into contact with so many people who don’t need ‘hospitalization,’ they just need some stabilization. Officers have nowhere to take people for that, so they end up in a hospital bed. This outpatient crisis unit is perfect for those individuals. It and the increased number of beds will cut down on the number of transports officers make out of the area,” said Lewis.


F&CS has operated COPES since 2001 and is the largest community provider of outpatient mental health services in Oklahoma. HMC has an extensive history related to the delivery of inpatient behavioral health services.