RGV Health Center Running Low on Funds, Patients Suffering Mental Illnesses at Risk
EDINBURG - A Rio Grande Valley mental health center said they’re about to deplete their budget leaving many low-income patients at risk.
Tropical Texas Behavioral Health in Edinburg is suspending admissions to access in-patient crisis and psychiatric beds in the Valley. The changes are expected to start January of next year. They said it will impact local law enforcement, emergency personnel and low-income families that need help.
McAllen resident Arthur Kasper, a military veteran and professional journalism photographer, said his number one priority is his relationship with his son who suffers from schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He’s my son, I love him. And I just hate to see him going someplace and getting into serious trouble,” he said. “I decided probably the best thing to do is to bring him here, and give him a secure comfortable life that he can just relax. And I think that’s paid off for him.”
However, Kasper said the loss of psychiatric patient beds in the Valley will impact their lives.
“If any day he has to be hospitalized, he doesn’t have insurance to pay for that and he’s not on my insurance. So, this is why this tropical would be good to have if I needed it for his hospitalization costs,” he said.
Tropical Texas Behavioral Health executive officer Terry Crocker said part of their budget comes from the state. He said their monthly budget doubled in expenditures during the first quarter of the year.
“So, our concern is we have to make sure that we’ve got some monies to last us through the year,” he said.
He said they will possibly suspend in-patient admissions for short periods of time in the upcoming months to use the funds effectively. He said it may cause problems to certain patients.
“The issue right now is the ability. If you’re in crisis and you’re so ill that you need to go in-patient and you have no ability to pay, no insurance; we could have some situations in the coming months in which we can’t get you admitted immediately locally,” he said.
Crocker added the rapid growth in populations will cause an increase in people seeking assistance.
“(Before) it’s gone for more than 28,000 people to almost 44,500 people, and we estimate that this year. Now that we’re in fiscal year ’17, we’ll be over 48,000 different crisis encounters,” he informed.
Crocker said the suspension is soon approaching. He said already sent off a summary packet to show the state the need for more funding.
“I put them on alert and made a request that if there are any unspent funds anywhere in the state, we’re going to need them here in the Valley,” he said.
Kasper said he hopes his son can still get assistance at home. If not, he and other patients will have to travel outside of the Valley.
Crocker explained in-patients will be sent to the nearest state psychiatric hospitals in San Antonio or Austin if their funds do run out.
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