THE JOURNAL RECORD
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 journalrecord.com Vol.118, No.46 • Two Sections
Answering an urgent need
BY SA...
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Integris Leader R. Murali Krishna seeks to build Mental Health Treatment Center in OKC

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Dr. Murali Krishna wants to address an urgent medical need for Oklahoma City: mental health care.
Dr. Murali Krishna, MD, DLFAPA is a psychiatric expert and pioneer in mind, body, spirit connection. He has published a book, Vibrant: To Heal and Be Whole – From India to Oklahoma City, and hosts podcasts about wellness and happiness at integrisok.com/mentalhealth.

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Integris Leader R. Murali Krishna seeks to build Mental Health Treatment Center in OKC

  1. 1. THE JOURNAL RECORD Wednesday, March 6, 2013 journalrecord.com Vol.118, No.46 • Two Sections Answering an urgent need BY SARAH TERRY-COBO THE JOURNAL RECORD OKLAHOMA CITY – Dr. Murali Krishna wants to address an urgent medical need for Oklahoma City: mental health care. The president and chief operating officer of Integris Mental Health, Krishna said the city lacks a compre- hensive residential treatment facility for people who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. So he and a team of yet-unnamed partners are working on plans to develop a Betty Ford-type treatment center that would serve people from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. But the challenge is building a business case for such a facility. There is an emergent need for resi- dential and inpatient mental health care services. The ideal treatment center would need to serve paying clients, those with insurance, and those with no money. Krishna said he and a working group are trying to fig- ure out the right mix so the facility isn’t subsidized by a private entity. In Oklahoma, only one in three people who qualify for mental health or substance abuse services receives treatment, according to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. On any given day in the state, 600 to 900 people are on a waiting list to get into a residential treatment facility, said Steven Buck, deputy commis- sioner for that agency. “Oklahoma has continued to have a significant treatment gap for peo- ple who step forward and say they need help,” Buck said. In many cases, by the time the person has been called from the waiting list, they’ve been arrested or can’t be found, Buck said. Stanley Hupfeld, chairman of the Integris Family of Foundations at Integris Health, is working with Krishna to determine the business case for a possible comprehensive treatment facility. “If you have a family member impacted by addiction, money or posi- tion doesn’t shield you from this prob- lem,” Hupfeld said. “You don’t want to have to send your child or young adult out of state for treatment.” Oklahoma has the lowest mental health funding allocation per capita in the nation, Krishna said. And while Krishna, Hupfeld and Buck applaud Gov. Mary Fallin for an increase in funding for the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, that agency has seen dramat- ic cuts in prior years. In 2008, the Legislature cut $36 million from the department to help close the state budget gap. “But the system is treating to acuity rather than for prevention,” he said. “More early intervention would be merited and warranted.” In addition to a lack of inpatient beds, the state doesn’t have an ade- quate follow-up system, Krishna said. Many people need a residential facili- ty, medication and therapists to sup- port them and prevent an addiction relapse or to monitor anti-psychotic prescriptions. Few hospitals have psy- chiatric facilities. Because health insurance historically has underfund- ed mental health services, it is difficult to recoup the investment spent on that kind of care. Krishna and Hupfeld said the working group is trying to determine the right mix of patients that would make a multimillion-dollar facility financially viable; most high-end treatment centers charge $1,000 per night. Hupfeld said the working group is trying to determine the needs of potential patients. “You want to address those who don’t have the resources, but also be attractive to those who can pay,” Hupfeld said. “It’s finding the right bal- ance of having enough patients, and not to be a drain on its parent organization.” Verna Foust is the acting CEO of the nonprofit organization Red Rock Behavioral Health Services. Her organization has a contract to provide mental health care to people on Medicaid. She said inadequate funding of mental health services is not new. The state is in desperate need of more facilities for people with serious mental illness. Having a new facility in Oklahoma City would help, Foust said. But she said it must be affordable. “You can build the biggest, most wonderful facility, but if people can’t pay for it, it won’t help,” she said. Krishna and Hupfeld’s working group is looking at the philanthropic community to help cover the capital costs to build an emotional wellness and substance abuse center. Krishna said he couldn’t release names of potential partners until all the details of the capital campaign have been finalized. Hupfeld said there are enough people in Oklahoma who have been affected by mental illness or sub- stance abuse that people will con- tribute to a capital campaign. “We think this will resonate with foundations,” Hupfeld said. “The question is just, ‘how much?’” The need for a comprehensive emotional wellness and substance abuse center is clear, he said. But the working group is still trying to figure out if they can raise $1 million or tens of millions. Krishna said the working group is trying to determine how to raise money to build the facility and find the right balance of patients: those who can afford $1,000 per day and an average reasonable cost for other patients. “I would love to think of that com- bination,” Krishna said. “Our ability to raise the funds to build this kind of facility, the intense need of this com- munity and those who will step for- ward to help, that is something we have not solved yet.” Integris leader seeks to build mental health treatment center DDrr.. MMuurraallii KKrriisshhnnaa,, pprreessiiddeenntt aanndd cchhiieeff ooppeerraattiinngg ooffffiicceerr ooff IInntteeggrriiss MMeennttaall HHeeaalltthh.. PHOTO BY BRENT FUCHS

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