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Mental health hospital often over capacity

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Fifteen additional staff members have been hired to deal with overcrowding at the state's only public mental health hospital.

Mental health Commissioner Terry Cline says the overcrowding at Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman could be due to cutbacks in community services several years ago.

A new state law that prohibits mentally ill patients accused of crimes from staying at certain hospitals is also a factor.

The hospital's capacity is 140 patients, but daily counts are routinely at 160 and have reached as high as 181 patients.

Shannon Crow of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association says workers at the hospital have been putting mattresses on the floor to deal with the overcrowding.

Cline says cots were being used, but that's no longer the case. He says funding approved by the Legislature should help eliminate a patient backlog.
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