CARSON CITY — At least one state lawmaker raised concern Tuesday about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to shut down a youth psychiatric hospital in Southern Nevada.
Sandoval’s proposed $8.1 billion two-year spending plan includes eliminating the 58-bed, state-run Desert Willow Treatment Center. The facility includes 20 beds for acute psychiatric care of children 6 to 17 years old; and 38 beds for residential treatment of children ages 12 to 17.
But officials with the Division of Child and Family Services told a legislative committee that the expansion of Medicaid and increased reimbursements at private hospitals, as well as mobile crisis intervention programs, has led to a decline in demand for beds.
Instead, the state plans to incorporate youth psychiatric services within the nearby Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital. Officials said it will provide a 10-bed unit for acute juvenile psychiatric care and a 10-bed unit for adolescent residential treatment.
The governor’s office said the change will save the state $3.2 million over the upcoming biennium.
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said she was concerned the state could be cutting its options too thin by only having 10 acute care beds available.
Statistics provided by the agency showed the quarterly average of patients treated at Desert Willow has declined over the past two years — from the low-to-mid 20s in 2014-2015 for both acute and residential patients to an average of nine at the end of last year.
About 1,000 youth statewide were served by mobile crisis intervention teams in 2016. Of those, 85 percent were directed to home and community-based programs, reducing the need for costly acute care.
Carlton, chairwoman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, asked agency administrators to provide a breakdown of monthly patient numbers at Desert Willow when formal budget hearings are held in the coming weeks.
The Legislature convenes Feb. 6.