California health system eliminates geriatric psychiatric services

Palomar Medical Center in Poway, Calif., will close its 17-bed geriatric psychiatric space on or before Oct. 31, according to an Aug. 24 public notice from Escondido, Calif.-based Palomar Health. 

The space held 28 percent of San Diego County's geriatric psychiatric beds and appeared to be meeting its needs, the San Diego Union Tribune reported Aug. 29. 

However, the geriatric unit — operating since 2020 under a temporary state waiver set to expire this year — does not meet the federal government's anti-ligature requirements, the Tribune reported. Updating the unit to meet those requirements — replacing anything that might bear body weight — would be costly and time-consuming, especially as Palomar expects its accreditation survey from The Joint Commission in the coming months. If the unit is not improved before The Joint Commission's visit, the hospital could lose accreditation and the ability to bill Medicare, according to the Tribune

Palomar plans to build a 120-bed mental health hospital with Louisville, Ky.-based Kindred Healthcare, but it is not expected to open on the Escondido campus until 2024, the Tribune said. 

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