Renovations to a closed hospital that would serve as a maximum-security psychiatric facility for Southern Nevada and add more beds for the mentally ill could be completed in summer 2015.
Lake’s Crossing Center in Northern Nevada is now the state’s only center for evaluating the competency of offenders referred by the court system.
The state Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Thursday approved more than $3 million to renovate Stein Hospital, a closed mental hospital on Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital’s campus. Officials will expedite the project, which is expected to be completed in summer 2015. The hospital will have 58 beds.
“It’s what we need,” said Chelsea Szklany, Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services administrator. “We definitely need the extra beds.”
The Nevada State Board of Examiners earlier this month approved the contingency funds to renovate the Stein building, but the allocation required final approval from the Interim Finance Committee.
Rawson-Neal lost its accreditation and was hit with a federal lawsuit in the aftermath of allegations of patient dumping after it discharged James F. Brown, 48, to Sacramento, Calif., in February with no support or family waiting for him. And Lake’s Crossing was sued by the Clark County public defender’s office over wait times of clients being admitted into the Sparks-based hospital.
Forty-two out of the 58 beds at Stein will be for court-ordered patients. The remaining 16 beds will be available for patients when Rawson-Neal is at capacity.
Those additional beds should provide relief to both Rawson-Neal and Lake’s Crossing, which are currently struggling to accommodate patients who have to wait at either detention centers or local emergency rooms to be admitted.
Mike Willden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said the most recent count shows 38 court-ordered patients waiting to be admitted into Lake’s Crossing. Thirty-four of them are from Clark County.
About 65 percent of the 66 beds at Lake’s Crossing are taken by detainees from Clark County, Willden said, and it is possible that even after opening the Stein facility, some detainees will have to be flown to the Northern Nevada facility.
Ten additional beds to expand capacity at Lake’s Crossing was approved by the Legislature this summer and are expected to become available in November.
Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting at the valley’s emergency rooms in the last 10 days hovered between 115 and 120, Willden said. “We still have a significant emergency room wait time.”
Tracey Green, the state’s chief medical officer, said from early July to about a week ago, about 40 percent of the mental patients waiting at Clark County emergency rooms were homeless and another 10 percent were non-Nevada residents.
Some of the 40 percent reported as homeless could also be non-Nevada residents, Green said. Forty-five percent of them had a primary psychiatric disorder.
According to the hospitals, Green said 85 percent of mental patients coming into Clark County emergency rooms arrive by ambulance and 15 percent are walk-ins.
Once the Stein Hospital’s renovations are completed, it will be certified by the federal Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services agency, Willden said. The agency is licensed to have up to 290 beds. It now operates 190 beds.
Officials will have to go back to the state Legislature during the 2015 session and ask for additional funding to staff the hospital. That could be anywhere between $12 million and $13 million.
However, getting the funds to renovate Stein is a step in the right direction, Willden said.
“This is job one. These are serious issues,” he said. “We understand the public scrutiny that we are in.”
Contact Yesenia Amaro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.