MUSC in need of more psychiatric beds as mental health services increase

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The Medical University of South Carolina and Medical University Hospital Authority Board of Trustees approved pursuit of certificates for psychiatry inpatient beds on Oct. 13 and 14.

The need comes as statewide data demonstrates a behavioral health crisis is underground throughout South Carolina, fueled by lack of access to behavioral health and mental health services, according to MUSC’s Press Release.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness in Charleston works with individuals in need of mental health services to find them accessible treatment. Laura Evens, NAMI Charleston Board Member, explained how the increase in need for mental health services has impacted the organization.

“Not only has it been difficult to find availability because of the increase in need for mental health services, but you’re running into waitlist for someone that’s in a crisis,” Evens said. “It’s also been difficult for people to even get a therapy appointment because of the demand and increase.”

After approval from the board, the need for 40 inpatient psychiatry beds at University Hospital in Charleston and 25 inpatient psychiatry beds at the MUSC Health Florence Cedar Tower facility is at the top of the agenda.

Patrick J. Cawley, MD, MUSC Health System CEO and executive vice president for Health Affairs, said this is just the beginning to increase services for those experiencing mental health problems.

“We are jampacked in Charleston, with occupancy rates consistently at 90% or above for our inpatient beds, and in Florence, they have the least number of inpatient care beds per capita in the entire state,” Cawley said. “In working with the state and other partners, we are envisioning a multifaceted behavioral and mental health plan that involves inpatient beds, crisis stabilization centers and better outpatient connectivity through mechanisms like our telehealth national center of excellence.”

Evens also explained that the National Alliance for Mental Illness is excited to see MUSC working to provide more resources for the community.

“We have absolutely seen a tremendous increase in phone calls, requesting support,” Evens said. “Thankfully, we’re also seeing more awareness and more folks contributing to the nonprofit and supporting mental health for everyone. We just feel it’s a great day for mental health when there’s a story that’s positive about actions being taken to support this.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please visit NAMI’s website or call MUSC’s psychiatric services at 843-792-9888 to schedule an appointment.


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