Northfield Braces for a Surge in Psych Patients




Government-run mental hos-pitals have come a long way since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. For one thing, the sadistic bastards mostly work in the boardroom these days. And in addition to caring for patients, the hospitals are often bastions of research that attract the best doctors.

Naturally, Cuyahoga County no longer has one.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health moved the last patients out of the 100-bed Northcoast Behavioral Center near MetroHealth at the end of June. Now the suicidal and tormented must schedule their breakdowns to take place at an area hospital or the nearest mental-health facility: in Summit County.

The move is a reversal of the department’s 2007 plan to replace the West 25th St. hospital with a new, larger loony bin on Euclid. Instead, the state is expanding its center in Northfield to accommodate the influx of patients coming from throughout the region. Governor John Kasich said in March that the new plan will save the state $30 million, but city officials were taken by surprise.

MetroHealth gets a deal though: The state will give the county health system the four acres of land currently occupied by the old hospital building and will pay $3.4 million to tear it down. Metro did not respond to calls asking what it intends to do with the extra land, though plans for a shiny new front for kickbacks and bribes are said to be in the works.

The move shouldn’t spike anyone’s anxiety, says ODMH spokeswoman Trudy Sharp. “Even with the loss of Huron Hospital [30 beds] and the state hospital, Cuyahoga County and Northeast Ohio in general still have a higher percentage per population of acute care psychiatric beds than other counties.”
So rest easy, fragile Clevelanders.We’ve got plenty of happy pills to go around. — Maude Campbell

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