Prompted by Regulators, Truman Medical Closes Psychiatric Emergency Room
Last month, Kansas City residents found out that Truman Medical Centers would be closing its Behavioral Health Emergency Department, "effective immediately," and moving those services to another emergency room in the area. Mental health advocates are understandably bothered by the loss of this dedicated mental health resource, especially since public officials promised when the clinic was taken over by Truman six years ago that the operations of the psychiatric ER would not be affected.
So what forced the psychiatric emergency clinic to shut down? If you guessed government meddling, you guessed right.
Truman took over operation of the behavioral health emergency room from the state in 2009, when it was known as the Western Missouri Mental Health Center. It has served about 30,000 patients in the past six years.
Truman decided to close the ER after state and federal regulators said it would have to staff and equip the facility as a full-service medical emergency room, Truman spokesman Shane Kovac said.
“That’s a big challenge,” Kovac said. “It just made more sense to shut this down.”
The clinic's closure is a blow to the interests of mental health patients and advocates. To be clear, consolidation of medical services is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when separate operations are inefficient and wasteful. But here, government-imposed regulatory burdens created the inefficiency by requiring a clinic tailored to psychiatric patient needs to operate like a regular emergency room instead. The result: now there's no psychiatric ER at all.
It's yet another example in a long line that supports the old Ronald Reagan quip: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help." Patients deserve better.