PARKSIDE's decision impacting Day Center For The Homeless

Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Imagine showing up to your doctor's office, only to be told he couldn't treat you anymore; and you'd have to develop trust in another healthcare provider. That's what's happening to more than 1,600 mental patients in Tulsa.

Drew Brownson is spending his summer volunteering. "I answer phones, I clean, I sort clothes, and I do pretty much everything." He's seen a lot at the Day Center for the Homeless, where more than 400 people come for help every day. It's been an eye-opening experience for a boy who grew up in private schools. "I see a lot of people trying to get help, and a lot of people trying to help them. And it's good that there's a place like this for them."

Now there's a new service at the Day Center. It's a triage center for the seriously mentally ill. The crisis center was born of necessity - once Parkside Hospital announced it would no longer treat indigent mental patients. Vicki Downing MSW, Crisis Intervention Center: "So it's kind of our own version of a psychiatric MASH unit, the employees that are here with us today are some of the best clinicians from around the state that we've recruited to come in and do - you know, emergency psychiatric care."

Indigents who are normally taken to Parkside will now come to this tiny room, where mental health professionals have the credentials and supplies to evaluate, treat, medicate and refer seriously ill patients to facilities throughout the state. It's a temporary fix for a serious problem. Sandra Holden, Day Center for Homeless: "I do believe that the state is doing everything in their power to make this happen as easily as possible."

Sandra Holden says twenty or more indigents a day may come through a special area of the Day Center looking for help and the influx will not disrupt her staff's goals. Holden": "Trying to inform them about what the options are, and to put the word out that 'you're not being dumped, that there are services available for you, and that we want to help you make that transition." Julie Summers, Mental Health Assn: "It's a difficult transition for anyone to have to change therapists. But to do that in the middle of a crisis kind of situation, and to do it when you're dealing with a serious mental illness is particularly difficult."

When Parkside ends its contract with the State, the ones with the least, will be hurt the most. State officials say they proposed a 90-day transition, during which Parkside would be compensated. Parkside stuck with the 30-day phase-out. The temporary fix will cost the state a little more than $3 million.