Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mental health facility closing its doors; 1,000 patients must find new treatment options

Rebecca Clark
2011-02-18 16:15:45
KINGS MOUNTAIN — Around 1,000 patients will have to find new treatment options after Carolina Therapeutic Solutions announced plans to close its doors.
The mental health agency located in Kings Mountain provides psychiatric services for children and adults as well as prescriptions for medications.
The provider was a hospital-based business until 2010 when it became a limited liability corporation similar to a doctors’ office, said hospital spokeswoman Dottie Leatherwood.
She said the Cleveland County Healthcare System, consisting of Cleveland Regional Medical Center, Kings Mountain Hospital and Cleveland Pines, helped provide the staff.
“We’re in the process of notifying patients that it will close the last of March,” said Leatherwood. “We’re working with patients to find providers and local resources to meet their needs.”
Originally housed in two offices, one in Kings Mountain and one in Shelby, Carolina Therapeutic Solutions was consolidated into one location in 2010.
“We provided a note just like any other practice that it will be closing and let them know they would not be seeing patients after the end of March,” Leatherwood said. “We’ve been doing that for almost two weeks now.”
She said there were multiple issues that drove the business into closing its doors, including the volume of patients needed to sustain the practice.
She said the mental health system is also adding additional resources to the region.
“We know that that is starting to impact some of the private practices,” she said.
Kings Mountain Hospital will continue to provide inpatient behavioral health services and a psychiatrist will be available for hospital consultations at Cleveland Regional Medical Center and Kings Mountain Hospital.
The new Cleveland Recovery and Crisis Center, scheduled to open in Shelby in March, will also provide substance abuse services.
“It’s just the outpatient office that would be closing,” Leather wood said.
The business also needed revisions to meet current standards.
“The current model has limitations on what it can provide for mental health needs,” Leatherwood said. “That needs to be managed a little differently.”
She said the outpatient behavioral health model is having to change throughout the state.
“What we’re hoping happens is that a private provider would be able to take a practice such as this and offer what really meets the needs of the patients,” Leatherwood said. “This has been a hospital-led program but really needs to be a private model program.”
She said many of the patients were not from Cleveland County.
Rene Willis, a therapeutic foster parent and also an adoptive mother, said mental health treatment options, particularly for children, are already scarce in Cleveland County.
She said part of successful treatment depends on the trust between patient and doctor.
“When you have a new mental health patient, it takes time to build relationship. Takes time to trust the doctor,” Willis said. “You’re breaking trust right and left. It’s so unfair.”
She said she was not told the provider would be closing until Wednesday.
She said she would like at least three months’ notice before closing to allow patients to find alternate care.
“There’s not that many psychiatrists in Shelby or Kings Mountain,” she said. “It’s a badly, badly needed service.”
Willis said the psychiatrist her son has been seeing has an office in Charlotte.
“It’s at the point where I’m taking my child to the office in Charlotte,” she said. “My child’s sanity is more important than gas mileage.”
She worries that not everyone will have that option or be able to find the resources they need.
“A lot of those patients, they’re on their own,” she said. “They don’t realize they’re messing with 1,100 different people, not to mention the staff.”
Leatherwood said patients will be provided with choices.
“If they need assistance making calls, we do that, but most patients its like if a doctor retires, you call and get a new doctor. We do have a list available for them.”
Rhett Melton, area director for Pathways, said there are a number of providers in Cleveland County that offer mental health and substance abuse services, both for children and adults.
“The two probably most comparable services to what they (Carolina Therapeutic Solutions) did are services offered through True Behavioral Healthcare and Phoenix Counseling,” Melton said.
He said Pathways also staffs a 24- hour hotline that can help consumers get linked to an appropriate service provider.
“There are some very good service providers who are options in Cleveland County,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with them as they transition.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Clark at 704-669-3344.

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