As a psychiatric registered nurse, I am concerned about the decision to close Hoag Hospital's Mental Health Services unit as was discussed in The Times (March 18).
Mental health services are an integral part of the healing process for many individuals suffering from such stress-related conditions as cardiac, hypertensive and gastrointestinal problems. Long-term debilitating illnesses, such as cancer and gerontological problems, require psychiatric intervention and rehabilitation. With these facts in mind, I find it difficult to understand why the mental health unit was selected for elimination from Hoag Hospital.
Hoag has provided services that meet the physio-psychosocial needs of their patients with intelligence and compassion and has provided quick access for management of psychiatric problems for the entire medical staff. Now, with the plans to close the county's second-largest psychiatric facility, many of us who are directly involved in caring for people who suffer from emotional and mental pain are concerned that the shortage of psychiatric services and facilities will be even more acute.
Perhaps the absence of mental health services will "not have a significant negative impact on the operation of the rest of the hospital," as Larry Ainsworth, Hoag administrator has stated, but I believe it will have a significant impact on the community.
I join with many of the medical profession who are hopeful that some mental health services will continue to be offered by Hoag Hospital.