A psychiatric hospital in southeast Florida serving low-income and uninsured patients abruptly shut its doors earlier this month, according to The Palm Beach Post. The move potentially leaves hundreds of patients without access to care.
The West Palm Beach-based Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health closed Oct. 18 following financial troubles — specifically a bankruptcy filing less than a month earlier that the center went on to withdraw.
The center served more than 1,800 patients per year, most of whom were uninsured. It operated a 44-bed psychiatric hospital, an out-patient clinic, a pharmacy and addiction treatment programs.
The closure drastically reduces patients’ options to access care, leaving Palm Beach County with only one nonprofit mental health center and no standalone psychiatric hospitals, the paper reported.
It also resulted in the layoff of more than 300 center employees — a couple of whom are suing over claims that their abrupt layoff violated federal law.
The first domino to fall for Golden Center was the indictment of CFO Alan Heide back in August, according to The Palm Beach Post. Federal prosecutors charged Heide with conspiracy to commit securities fraud, to which he pleaded guilty.
While Golden Center was not mentioned in the indictment, the news prompted its board to begin looking into the facility’s finances. They found money problems dating back to at least 2015.
Since then, the center had been operating on a deficit of nearly $2 million, the paper reported. Plus, the board took out mortgages on its properties twice this year in an attempt to stay open.
Not only does the closure displace patients, but it could force many of them to go without care.
All the other mental health beds in the county are currently full — including those at the jail — The Palm Beach Post reported. While two facilities have expressed interest in adding beds, that’s not expected to happen until next year.