New Tulsa Hospital Aims To Improve Mental Health Treatment

Thursday, November 21st 2019, 8:43 pm
By: Amy Avery

As many mental health facilities close across the state, one Tulsa hospital is expanding.

Parkside Psychiatric Hospital is opening a new state-of-the-art $37 million facility, allowing doctors to help more Oklahomans, like Shelia Johnson.

Johnson started counseling at Parkside nearly 20 years ago after she lost her job and became overwhelmed with depression. She said it's changed her whole outlook on life and even helped her cope with her son's murder.

"Everyone tells you you're supposed to feel a certain way, but I think I had all my ducks in order before that process came. I just learned to celebrate life," she said.

Shelia said there's a stigma surrounding mental health and she wants people to know they can get help.

"You never know, that one thing might be the thing that causes them to end their lives," said Johnson.

Parkside Psychiatric Hospital's new state-of-the-art facility will add 65 more patient beds. The hospital offers a variety of services including inpatient care, group therapy sessions and pet therapy.

Parkside CEO Dr. Debra Jones said there was a big need for the new hospital, not only because the current facility was aging, but also because funding for mental health in Oklahoma is dwindling.

"Because of some of the funding issues related to mental health in Oklahoma that more than likely the other providers would be going out of business," said Jones.

Parkside is now the only hospital-based provider for kids with mental illness in Tulsa. Doctors see patients anywhere from six years old, through adulthood. They said with the recent closure of other facilities, like Shadow Mountain and Bethesda Treatment Center, the new bed space Parkside will have is crucial.

"We regularly turn away between 5 and 15 patients a week because we literally do not have a bed for them," said Ken Moore, the Director of Adolescent Acute Hospital & Social Services at Parkside.

In Parkside’s current hospital, there are four teenagers in one room together, which experts say can really impact their recovery. In the new hospital, patients will be able to stay in private rooms.

"This is going to allow us to provide a much calmer, quieter environment for kids to heal," Moore said.

Parkside said some teens are referred to the hospital by doctors or a family member, but this year they've seen an increasing number of student referrals made by schools because of threats.

This new hospital is going to increase the space in the adolescent unit alone by 25 percent. It also has amenities like outdoor balconies, doors that open in and out, so patients can’t barricade themselves inside, as well as fixed features to prevent using hand rails or a shower head to hang themselves.

“On any given day 80-90% of the kids on my unit are here because they are either thinking of killing themselves or they've actually attempted and we need to take care of them," adds Moore.

Construction on the new hospital should be finished by the end of the year. Parkside management said the current hospital will eventually become an adult rehab facility.

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