(05/03/2002)
Westbrook Health is pulling mental health services from Calhoun County. The facility at 2 Hospital Drive is being closed effective May 31, according to an announcement by County Director, Lois Holloway.

Westbrook, not unlike several mental health centers in the state, is facing critical financial problems. Many of the services provided in rural, low-populated and under served counties are being discontinued around the state, although critical services are also at risk in urban areas.

Charleston-based Shawnee Hills mental health center, once considered one of the largest behavioral health centers in America, declared bankruptcy Thursday. About 800 employees reportedly did not receive their checks.

Mental health centers in West Virginia moved from being public health agencies in the 1980's to being privatized, competing with private-for-profit providers and agencies. Their budgets skyrocketed.

Despite a public health mandate by the State of West Virginia, the agencies have struggled to survive in the world of managed care and stricter Medicaid guidelines. With many people who need mental health services being un-insured and not covered, many of the centers have been forced to cut back and deny service.

The West Virginia Legislature recently passed legislation bringing parity to mental health coverage by insurance companies that traditionally cover other medical problems. Mental health providers are taking a "wait and see attitude" toward improvements in paying for such needed services.

Westbrook will continue to operate the center in Spencer, indicating some services will continue to be provided in the county.


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