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Fewer options for psychiatric care in Mobile

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The only hospital in Mobile providing psychiatric care abruptly announced it will no longer treat patients under the age of 65. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey obtained a letter from Mobile Infirmary's president outlining its decision to stop offering in-patient care. It cites a "significant increase in the geriatric patient population in need of inpatient psychiatric care" as one reason for the decision.

This means AltaPointe will be the only provider of in-patient treatment, but it's not receiving any additional funding to treat patients. In a statement, AltaPointe expressed its disappointment, "with a metropolitan area, the size of Mobile not to have an acute care hospital with any adult psychiatric capacity is alarming and concerning. AltaPointe has the capacity to open up the needed bed space we just do not have the financial ability to operate."

Mobile's Public Safety Director James Barber says he's had meetings with Mobile Infirmary about this decision.

"We've been assured that the ER’s are prepared to handle these issues and will be able to triage patients with psychiatric issues," said Barber.

But with fewer beds in Mobile many are concerned patients will fall through the cracks and not receive vital treatment.

“Already it's a struggle to find beds for everyone who is in need of a bed. So the loss of any is going to have a big impact," said Connie Ewing, executive director of SOMI Club.

SOMI, or Survivors of Mental Illness, is a mental health daytime drop in center.

Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for Mobile County, said this is "another reason to renovate and reopen Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon." When the state-run facility closed in 2012, it had approximately 400 extended-care beds and a 124-bed intermediate care unit for patients with severe mental illness.

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