Crain’s Health Pulse
August 3, 2016
Staten Island University Hospital is seeking state approval to shut down its 29-bed inpatient psychiatric ward, which has been unoccupied on the hospital's north campus since April. The hospital asked the Department of Health and Office of Mental Hygiene to decertify the beds and relinquish the space it leases from the nearby South Beach Psychiatric Center. The hospital has been investing in outpatient behavioral health services over the past three years and began to see a decline in inpatient admissions about two years ago, said Dr. Timothy Sullivan, SIUH’s associate chair of behavioral science. He said the hospital can now manage with just the 35 beds in its south campus psychiatric ward. “The investment has primarily been an investment in people,” said Sullivan, “both in terms of new positions and trainings.” The hospital has hired a handful of addiction specialists and social workers as well as a child psychiatrist, and is working to integrate primary and behavioral health care, Sullivan said. He added that the state’s I-STOP program, designed to prevent doctors from over-prescribing opioids, may also have contributed to the reduction in inpatient visits. The hospital will save on infrastructure costs by closing the north campus psychiatric unit, but will soon need to reinvest in new space for outpatient care, Sullivan said.