OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma mental health professional said we have a serious mental health problem in our state.
He said patients aren't getting enough care, often being sent away from a hospital when they are in a crisis situation.
Psychiatrist Willis Holloway said, "We have patients who have presented to our ER on three different occasions in crisis and been denied access."
Holloway works as a psychiatrist at St. Anthony Hospital's Center for Behavioral Medicine.
He said he's concerned about the level of care mental health care patients in Oklahoma.
He said too often cases of those with state assistance are being denied based on a state doctor's review.
Holloway said, "He's never seen the patient, never treated the patient and, frankly, I'm not sure has even looked at the paperwork we've sent in because frequently the responses don't correlate very well."
Dr. Holloway feels the focus is no longer on the patient but the bottom line.
He blames the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
Oklahoma's Medicaid Director Garth Splinter said, "I don't agree with the assessment that we have changed things in a way that would result in more stringent criteria for admission."
Splinter said appropriate care has always been the state's focus.
He said, "We have, over the last several years, been trying to move patients from inpatient care to outpatient care. It's better for the patients; it's better for tax payers."
Holloway said, "They're basically trying to force our hand to put these patients on large doses of medication whether appropriate or not and then just ship them back into the community. I don't find this appropriate."
Holloway feels patients aren't getting enough care and that sending them back in to the community so quickly could be a dangerous move.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority said they have two psychiatrists as well as a team of behavioral health specialists who review every case to decide if inpatient care is necessary.
Splinter said if a doctor disagrees with the recommendation they do have the right to appeal and further state why they feel a different level of care is necessary.