Rush University’s inpatient youth mental health unit closing for good

A spokesman for the West Side hospital cited a lack of demand for services.

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Rush University Medical Center on the West Side will not reopen its inpatient youth mental health unit, which was closed temporarily in March.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file photo

Rush University Medical Center’s inpatient youth mental health unit is closing for good — just a few months after it shut down temporarily for staff to address safety issues raised by state inspectors.

A Rush spokesman cited a lack of demand for the closure of the 15-bed unit at the West Side hospital.

“It mostly stems from the referrals we get, and most of those were going to other places that were more specialized,” hospital spokesman Charlie Jolie said Thursday.

On a typical day, half of the beds in the unit were empty, Jolie said.

About 30 staffers worked in the unit.

“As other openings are available, [employess] are being transferred. They are given preferences for those openings,” Jolie said.

In late March, state officials touring Rush’s three behavioral health units found multiple “ligature” risks in patient rooms — features that could be used by patients to hang or strangle themselves, according to an Illinois Department of Public Health inspection report completed on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s report details a March 16 incident in which a woman admitted to the hospital for suicidal thoughts tried to stab herself in the neck with a ballpoint pen.

At the time, Jolie said the hospital was already planning on renovating the units to bring them into compliance with state and federal ligature risk regulations. The units were closed March 30 to “accelerate the construction” and address the issues identified by inspectors, he said.

The two adult units temporarily closed in March are expected to reopen in July, Jolie said.

Rush is expected to offer expanded outpatient youth mental health services beginning in the fall, Jolie said.

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