Oregon official 'stunned' by behavioral health hospital closing

Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Ore., is closing its behavioral health services in response to financial strain and staffing difficulties, leading a state representative to express surprise and cite $1 billion in funding Oregon lawmakers set aside for behavioral health.

The hospital has spent approximately $19 million in response to disruptions in surgical services and increased need for temporary labor because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, according to a May 25 press release from the hospital, is unsustainable and unfair.

These financial difficulties have forced the hospital to eliminate behavioral health services and cancel contracts of 56 temporary workers to reduce the organization's annual expenses and operate within its available budget, the hospital said. 

State Rep. Boomer Wright said he was stunned to hear the news, especially after the Legislature approved up to $1 billion for behavioral health in Oregon, local news source The World reported on May 31.

"As a Legislature, we set aside up to $1 billion in a couple of bills to help with behavioral health in Oregon," Mr. Wright told The World. "We have agencies responsible for disbursing the money that have done very little to get it out. As usual, our agencies are slow to help people out. I'm not sure why that is."

The hospital's inpatient behavioral health services are expected to close within 30 days of May 25.

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