Southside Hospital Seeks State Permission to Move Psychiatric Unit to Amityville

February 13, 2015
Southside Hospital Seeks State Permission to Move Psychiatric Unit to Amityville
Officials at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore have applied to the state to close and move its 20-bed inpatient psychiatric unit to a sister hospital in Amityville, a spokesman for the North Shore-LIJ Health System said.

The application was filed to the state Department of Health and the Office of Mental Health on Dec. 18, said hospital spokesman Terry Lynam.

Those beds would be added to South Oaks Hospital in Amityville, growing its number of inpatient psychiatric beds to 145, in addition to its 52-bed inpatient detox and rehabilitation unit.

"It's good for patients, it's good for the community," Lynam said.

South Oaks is a behavioral health institution that specializes in care for seniors, adults, adolescents and children. Its inpatient chemical dependency detox and rehabilitation unit benefits patients who suffer from other disorders while battling mental illness, Lynam said.

South Oaks' outpatient services can offer the same providers after a patient is discharged, compared to patients at Southside, which typically receive outpatient care from providers throughout their community and can cause difficulties in their recovery, Lynam said.

Southside Hospital will offer free transportation for the 11 miles between the two locations, Lynam said.

Michael Stolz, chief executive of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness in Ronkonkoma, and Ellen Healion, executive director of mental-health nonprofit Hands Across Long Island in Central Islip, said the move will benefit anyone using inpatient psychiatric services.

"I think it's a way to really meet all of somebody's needs," Healion said. "The fact that we're not losing the beds is the biggest thing there."

Southside's unit is the last in a community hospital within the Town of Islip, although the state-run Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in West Brentwood offers inpatient psychiatric services for adults, according to state data. Southside officials would look to double its emergency psychiatric department to a six-bed unit and offer round-the-clock critical care if the closure is approved.

Benjamin Rosen, spokesman for the state Office of Mental Health, confirmed the OMH received an application for the closure on Dec. 22. A review is pending.

Once vetted, the application must be reviewed by the State Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council and approved by the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health. The next behavioral council meeting is scheduled for March 13.

Hospital officials have proposed that the closure take place in July. A closure plan also needs to be submitted to the state DOH, Lynam said.

Lynam denied that finances motivated the move, saying: "What it came down to is this better meets the needs of the patients."

There are no plans yet for what would become a vacant unit at Southside, Lynam said.

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