NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Legislature has approved a $125 million investment in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for two new psychiatric hospitals.

The ARPA funding will be used to construct the two new state-of-the-art facilities in Norman and Tulsa to replace older facilities that can no longer properly administer its services.

“We are replacing outdated facilities that are frankly not capable of growing to meet demand and can’t be modified to host new evidence-based practices that advance care,” said Carrie Slatton-Hodges, ODMHSAS commissioner. “Having facilities designed to deliver modern mental health treatment services is a game changer, and is an investment to meet current and future needs.”

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says the new facilities will strongly impact behavioral health treatment statewide by providing 150 additional treatment beds and improving therapeutic options.

According to ODMHSAS, $87 million in ARPA money will be put towards replacing Griffin Memorial Hospital, with an approximate total replacement cost of $137 million.

Slatton-Hodges from the ODMHSAS stipulated that the legislature’s approval shows a commitment to behavioral healthcare in Oklahoma.

“This unprecedented action further demonstrates the commitment by our elected officials to expand access to life-saving behavioral health services and the need to expand opportunities for care,” she said. “As we continue to modernize our approach to the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services statewide, and increase the ability of all Oklahomans to engage in services when needed, these facilities will play an integral part in making positive change occur.”

The completion is estimated for November 2024.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association released the following statement following today’s vote:

“The Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) fully supports the quick allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help increase children’s mental health services. Time is of the essence and lives are truly on the line. 

According to a report released in 2021 by Mental Health America, Oklahoma ranks 46th in children’s mental health. Programs like the pediatric behavioral health clinic proposed by OU Health would make great strides in addressing this dire need, but they must be funded without strings like those included in SB3XX. 

It’s disturbing that some legislators have chosen to hijack what should be a straightforward special session focused on COVID relief funding to advance a political agenda. Unfortunately, instead of supporting the mental health of Oklahoma’s children, lawmakers are once again inserting themselves into private health care.

As the state’s largest physician organization, the OSMA firmly believe medical treatment should remain between physicians, patients and their families. Politics do not belong in the exam room, especially when these actions are rooted in anti-science rhetoric. 

OSMA urges the legislature to forgo this distraction and allow physicians to provide care for their patients without unnecessary red tape from legislators more interested in promoting their personal political agenda than improving the health of our state.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association