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Aultman Hospital closes psychiatric unit, community concerned

Posted at 6:51 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 19:08:12-04

Aultman Hospital is closing the doors to its psychiatric unit, and folks in the county are worried. The hospital's inpatient treatment was the last of its kind in Stark County.

Patients will now be transferred to facilities outside of the county, making it challenging for families coping with treatment plans and visitations. 

In 2013, Mercy Medical Hospital closed its behavioral health wing, limiting inpatient treatment. 

News 5 reached out to Aultman Hospital for clarity on the closure, but they never responded. 

The county has several outpatient treatment facilities and free resources for those struggling with mental illnesses.  

"It's a struggle. It's now a 40-minute drive twice a day to see your child," said Kay Raga, President of The National Association of Mental Illnesses (NAMI) in Stark County.

Raga said patients will have to go to Akron or Cleveland for inpatient treatment.

She said patients without insurance will likely go to Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon. Those with insurance will move to another county. 

"I have no place to go in Stark County," said Diane Mang, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

Mang has been hospitalized twenty times, including a stay in Aultman Hospital. She said the closure will be tough on her family and her recovery. 

"Getting in a car to come up and visit me as an inpatient is not a simple thing if [my mom] has to navigate around Cleveland or Akron. I need that support system," Mang said. 

Mang leads support groups at Aultman Hospital through NAMI, giving patients a safe space to talk and share their struggles. 

In addition to NAMI, Stark Mental Health & Addiction Recovery in conjunction with Coleman operate a mobile response service. 

"I used it not too long ago, and it only took 30 minutes for them to arrive," Raga said. 

The mobile response team can be reached any time at 330-452-6000.