Hospital unit closing

Behavioral medicine unit in Bellaire ending

BELLAIRE — Belmont Community Hospital has closed its behavioral medicine unit, but the closure won’t have a significant impact for at least one area agency.

Belmont Community Hospital is a division of Wheeling Hospital.

“Over the past year, BCH has been gradually reducing some of its services throughout the hospital,” said Gregg Warren, Wheeling Hospital’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

“Wheeling Hospital is offering the unit’s 15 employees positions within its various locations.”

Entities that typically worked closely with the unit, including other area medical facilities, social services organizations, emergency medical services and law enforcement, have been notified of the unit’s closing.

Jayn A. Devney, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board in St. Clairsville, said her agency “received a phone call that it was closing late last week.”

However, the hospital’s unit “was not used that much” by the agency that serves residents of Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties, she said.

“Most of the individuals and residents in Belmont County went into that unit through private providers and local hospitals, not through our system of care,” Devney said.

She explained, “Our crisis team works to avoid admitting individuals into an in-patient unit, (instead) providing them with avenues that they can be safe within the community.”

The crisis team will screen patients who do need in-patient care.

“If they prefer to have them (treated) locally, they will use hospitals in surrounding communities,” she said. “If they are in need of in-patient (treatment), they refer them to facilities in surrounding counties.”

Ohio residents, though, who are committed involuntarily for in-patient mental health treatment must be hospitalized within the Buckeye State.

“We only use hospitals in the state of Ohio for involuntary commitment because it’s a state commitment,” Devney said.

When in-patient care is needed, “people are referred where a bed is available, where a facility is willing to accept them and where a managed care plan will agree to pay,” she said.

For residents of Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties, the closest state hospital is located in Athens, she said.

The Mental Health and Recovery Board, however, doesn’t have any direct contact with patients. The board contracts with Southeast Inc., a health care services provider in St. Clairsville, “to do all the screening for the state hospitals,” Devney said.