ELKHART — The in-patient psychiatric unit at Elkhart General Hospital is closed, for now, due to a shortage of psychiatrists.
Hospital officials are busy recruiting, however, and plan to re-open the facility as soon as they can, according to EGH President Greg Losasso. He offered no specific time frame, but said a candidate had accepted one of three new psychiatric posts to be filled.
“It may take a while to recruit the kind of people we need,” said Losasso.
The in-patient unit, located on the second floor of the hospital and called the Center for Behavioral Medicine, closed in mid-July. The facility had employed four psychiatrists but one left and another will soon depart, reducing the total to two.
“It just became too much for those physicians to be able to handle that,” Losasso said. The three new psychiatrists, when hired, will increase the number to five.
Ahead of the July closure, the hospital had already capped the number of beds at the in-patient unit to eight, from as many as 14. Not impacted by the closure was EGH’s out-patient psychiatric offerings, housed out of a separate facility on Osolo Road.
The in-patient unit had helped people battling depression, the elderly dealing with psychosis and others suffering acute psychiatric ailments. It also helped those suffering both mental and physical illnesses simultaneously, among others.
In the absence of the EGH facility, those needing in-patient care have been referred to Oaklawn Psychiatric Center facilities here, the Epworth Center at Memorial Hospital of South Bend and other facilities, Losasso said. The staff who supported the in-patient EGH facility were offered other spots within the hospital after July’s closure, though some left.