Community News
New Private Hospital Fills Gap in City’s MH System
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 8 page 19-19

Mental health care officials in Detroit are optimistic that a new hospital planned to open there later this year will help fill the gap left by the closure of Northville Psychiatric Hospital, the state’s largest hospital for mental health care and one of the last public mental health facilities in Detroit.

When Northville closed last May, it left hundreds of Detroit-area patients scrambling for care in hospitals around the state (Psychiatric News, February 7, 2003). The city lost almost half of its hospital beds for mentally ill people—from 1,965 in 1994 to 1,088 last year—during the administration of former Gov. John Engler (R).

The new 90-bed private hospital on Detroit’s east side, known as the Circle of Life Health Care, will serve Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. It will provide acute, short-term, long-term, and intensive care for 60 adults and 30 children and intake service for people who show up at the door.

The hospital is a project of a group of health care professionals and a Detroit real estate executive who saw a need for intensive therapy in a clinical setting after many of the hospitals for mentally ill individuals closed. The facility has already obtained a certificate of need from the state, a precondition to being issued a license. It must now get the approval of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations after its visitation in August.

Relatives of patients who opposed the transfers and long distances they had to travel to see loved ones welcomed the new hospital as they consider visitations and important part of therapy.

"If the proposal for the new hospital is sound, the facility would be a much-needed resource, and it would be great to get people from this part of the state back into the area again for long-term care, instead of having to move hundreds of miles away," Mark Reinstein, Ph.D., president of the Mental Health Association in Michigan, told Psychiatric News.

"One of the potential problems, if this all gets off the ground, is what happens if service payers and managers refuse to use the facility or will use it only for acute stays but nothing longer," he added.

Hubert C. Huebl, M.D., president of NAMI Michigan, said he was glad to hear of the first mental health hospital in years to be opened privately.

"I’m all for it because there is a need for long-term beds," he told Psychiatric News, "but many questions need to be answered."

These include whether the hospital will take Medicaid patients and whether insurance companies will be willing to pay the hospitals’ rates for people who need long-term care.

Huebl thinks it would be a good idea for the hospital to provide subacute care, such as that offered by a 24-bed unit in Mt. Clemens. He is trying to get similar ones developed in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, to accommodate about 100 people who are now housed in Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital and elsewhere. He is also communicating with Hope Network, which is based in Grand Rapids.

After complaints from people with mental illness and their relatives, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) appointed a special commission to study the need for inpatient care for people with mental illness since most of the state’s psychiatric hospitals have been closed. Michigan has closed more hospitals than any other state during the last 20 years.

Three members of the Michigan Psychiatric Society serve on the commission: Tom Carli, M.D., Michelle Reid, M.D., and Rajiv Tandon, M.D. ▪

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