Mississippi hospitals close behavioral health units

Vicksburg, Miss.-based Merit Health River Region closed its behavioral health unit on June 30, raising concern for residents about access to mental healthcare in the region, WLBT reported July 18.

The news comes one month after Jackson-based St. Dominic Health announced that it laid off 157 workers — a 5.5 percent reduction of its workforce — and wrapped up its behavioral health services unit due to financial difficulties. 

The cuts echo what many other financially challenged hospitals are doing across the country amid dwindling cash reserves, staffing shortages and rising labor costs. To preserve cash, many health systems are reducing or eliminating services that have been operating at a loss.

Behavioral health, maternity care and pediatrics are examples of such services hospitals are cutting.

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