Psychiatric Hospital Shuts Down, Transfers Patients

A major psychiatric hospital in the Texas Medical Center has shut down. IntraCare says it had to close its doors after Medicare pulled its certification.

IntraCare is a not-for-profit psychiatric hospital near Reliant Stadium.

Right before Christmas, federal regulators terminated the hospital from the Medicare payment program.

Bob Moos is with the Dallas regional office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“Inspectors found that the hospital staff used restraints fairly routinely in the hospital’s child and adolescent units without doctor’s orders, without documenting their use and without developing better ways to calm the patients.”

IntraCare CEO Terry Scovill says the problem wasn’t that staffers used restraint techniques per se, or used them abusively – rather the staffers weren’t documenting the incidents properly.

“We kind of plead our case, and said ‘Look we haven’t hurt anybody, we haven’t actually done a restraint incorrectly, there’s never been a bad outcome, this is 100 percent a paperwork issue.’”

But Moos says the deficiencies still posed a danger to the patients and also to the staff.

Scovill says that without Medicare payments, the hospital lost 80 percent of its revenue. He had to lay off dozens of workers, and patients are being transferred to a sister facility in north Harris County.

That hospital has its own certification and was not involved in the investigation.

“We feel bad about losing the 35 beds for the community. We know it’s going to be a  hardship and it’s going to be tough for the patients and we really feel bad about losing a facility in the Med Center because we had a huge number of patients that walked into this facility because of where we were.”

The Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority reports that Harris County has fewer publicly-funded psychiatric beds per capita than the Texas and national averages.

From the KUHF Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...