Psychiatric intensive care unit closes in Decatur

July 13, 2017 | By Joe Cadotte

Many rural communities in Illinois are experiencing more and more people suffering from mental illness.
Resources are shrinking in many towns and counties.

HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur closed their psychiatric intensive care unit in February.
“Changes are often made in order to provide the most efficient models of care,” said HSHS St. Mary’s spokesman Andrew Dilbeck in a statement.

“It is very disheartening to see increased need but decreased funding, and it’s often to the most vulnerable population that don’t have a voice,” said Tony Kirkman, director of Piatt County Mental Health Care.

Many rural communities in central Illinois, from Sangamon County to Moultrie County, often relied on St. Mary’s psychiatric intensive care unit for people who are so mentally ill they have to be hospitalized involuntarily.

“My concern was they obviously provide a much needed and very valued service and it leaves me, like my colleagues wondering, ‘where can we go? Where can we refer?'” Kirkman said.

There have already been mental health patients in central Illinois who have had to be transported as far as St. Louis for emergencies, authorities said.
“It makes it significantly more difficult for them to have quick access to care,” Kirkman said. “What’s nice is in prior arrangements, whenever we would do assessments and we had an open bed, it was a quick transport. It was a quick admission.”

Kirby Medical Center in Monticello handles a variety of emergency room visits including mental health.
CEO Steve Tenhouse says St. Mary’s closing its psychiatric intensive care unit has a ripple affect across county hospitals.

“Because our ambulance staff and our leaders are basically scrambling to find a proper place for that patient,” Tenhouse said. “It has a ripple effect within the organization too.”

St. Mary’s in Decatur says the hospital continues to offer specialized mental health care across all ages.
They sent us a list of behavioral health resources in Illinois, that lists McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield as offering involuntary behavioral health care.