A facility that offers mental health care to elderly people in southwest Iowa is shutting down in two weeks. The Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston plans to close its Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit. Bobbi Finarty, the hospital’s marketing director, says the decision was a difficult one as the Medicare reimbursement rate changed, which was beyond anyone’s control.

Finarty says: "The main reasons behind the closure is there simply aren’t the patients to support the unit. Before the medical center opened the unit in 2001, they had an independent study done by an expert corporation in the mental health field and the projection that company made at the time just didn’t follow suit." She says the patients just didn’t materialize like they’d projected.

She says the community’s psychiatrists and physicians are leaning more toward mental health that can be treated in the community instead of hospitalization. Finarty says the closure will be effective on December 1st and will eliminate 17 positions at the hospital.

Finarty says there are currently no patients in the unit. She says the medical center’s emergency department remains available for crisis situations and there are established counseling services available to treat geriatric behavioral health patients in the area.