More JPS psych beds would be welcomed

Increasing the availability of beds for psychiatric patients with long-term needs has been a struggle for Texas.

Most Texas hospitals don’t have nearly enough beds to accommodate the demand.

Dallas-Fort Worth, in particular, has failed in this area.

John Peter Smith Hospital, one of the few psychiatric emergency rooms in the area, has only 96 beds. That’s 96 spots for a population of more than 2 million people.

The appalling lack of availability for psych patients appears to be a recurring problem. Space constraints mean that patients, once stabilized, are released but usually without any long-term treatment plans, medication or follow-ups. That often means they return to the hospital after the next episode or incident. It’s a cycle of despair and poor treatment of those who need mental health care.

JPS has been vying for bond money to improve its services, but the big price tag has made leaders skittish. In 2015, an $800 million-plus bond package on the ballot was pulled after town hall opposition. Residents wanted more outlying clinics in surrounding cities.

The hospital system commissioned a “blue ribbon” committee to study what was critically needed.

Now the commission is offering a new master plan that would cost somewhere close to $1 billion and be better equipped for mental health care.

The original bond called for a 148-bed psych unit to replace the measly 96. The committee has since proposed 298 psych beds.

Now we are getting somewhere.

Though 298 psych beds don’t seem like much for our sizable population, it is significantly better than 96.

With the additional beds and new central hospital, this bond package proposal could help satisfy more of Tarrant County’s growing mental health care needs.

Though an election date on this plan hasn’t been solidified, we can help voice the need for a better JPS.

A more efficient JPS makes for a healthier and happier Tarrant County.