Mental health and substance abuse monitored in Oil PatchHealth officials are continuing to monitor the Oil Patch for changes in mental health and substance abuse needs, the North Dakota State Hospital Governing Board learned Monday at its quarterly meeting.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Health officials are continuing to monitor the Oil Patch for changes in mental health and substance abuse needs, the North Dakota State Hospital Governing Board learned Monday at its quarterly meeting.
“From the standpoint of the number of people coming here (to the North Dakota State Hospital), we have not seen much of a change,” said Alex Schweitzer, hospital superintendent, after the meeting.
The State Hospital serves as the primary inpatient facility for the Jamestown, Devils Lake, Dickinson and Williston regions.
The hospital gets about 3 percent of its admissions from the northwest region, which has no inpatient hospital for psychiatric care, he added.
“I can tell you in the region they have seen an increase in care,” Schweitzer said.
Much of that increase has been in the area of medication management, he explained, for people who take psychiatric drugs from antidepressants to antipsychotics. Some of those people come in and have blood tests or see psychiatrists.
It’s not necessarily people who work in the oil fields, either.
“It could happen because there’s stressors with housing, jobs, stressors with the cost of living up there,” Schweitzer said. “The oil boom has created an increase in our service of medication management (for) severe, moderate or mild mental illness.”
The Department of Human Services is doing a study on oil-impacted counties, which will help DHS prepare its budget for that part of the state, said Carol Olson, director of DHS.
Schweitzer also presented other admissions information to the Governing Body Monday.
Admissions at the hospital fell from 1,281 in 2010 to 1,201 in 2011, which was considered a small number. The numbers were still up since 2007, when there were 1,060 admissions.
The majority of admissions to the adult psychiatric service sector came from the Southeast (Fargo) Region and the South Central (Jamestown/Valley City) Region.
Half of inpatient admissions had been identified as needing acute detoxification or addiction services.
“The typical psychiatric patient is an individual with severe illness with potential for violence toward others or potential suicide that doesn’t abate within a few days of hospitalization,” Schweitzer wrote in his report to the Governing Body.
In other news Monday, the NDSH Governing Body:
* learned that 98 employees had been honored with a total of 1,294 years of service to the NDSH at an awards ceremony in February, with three individuals contributing 40 years of service each.
* heard from Eduardo Yabut, NDSH medical director, who said the hospital was still attempting to recruit psychiatrists.
* heard a report from John DeVary, environmental safety officer. In 2011, the facility had one minor electrical fire, which was extinguished with only minor damage and did not have any negative outcomes for patients or staff. That same year, 63 fire drills were completed at the hospital.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org