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Budget crisis could be life-threatening for some mentally ill

Their day begins around 8:30 a.m. at the OU Clinic in Tulsa. A roomful of nurses, therapists and case management workers, all part of the OU IMPACT Team. A quick update on their patients. Around 64 in all. (KTUL)

Their day begins around 8:30 a.m. at the OU Clinic in Tulsa. A roomful of nurses, therapists and case management workers. A quick update on their patients. Around 64 in all.

Some of the most severe mental health patients in the Tulsa area. Schizophrenia to bipolar disorders, this team sees them all. But not here at the clinic.

Once the meeting is done, they hit the road. They're called the OU IMPACT teams, and because the state budget crisis, could soon be a thing of the past. There are three of them in Tulsa, taking on hundreds of patients. Visiting each one at their homes.

Stacy King with OU IMPACT said they provide whatever the patient needs.

"Helping them with medications, physical health needs, and substance abuse if that's one of their issues," said King.

Cindy Hickl with OU IMPACT said these are patients who, can't make the trip to the clinic themselves.

"Due to the severity of their symptoms, they are just unable to do that," said Hickl.

Their first patient of the day, Larry Lucas, suffers from severe schizophrenia. Lucas said he wouldn't be here without the help he gets from OU IMPACT.

"The help I get is irreplaceable," said Lucas.

Their next patient, Rachel Acosta, suffers from bipolar schizophrenia. Acosta would ordinarily take the bus to the clinic, but says her symptoms are too severe.

"I think they're talking and laughing about me," said Acosta. "So I'll end up getting so frustrated about it, I'll start saying things out loud to them, like cussing them out."

Hickl says if this program gets cut, hundreds of patients in Tulsa will suffer.

"People will die. It is an absolute certainty," said Hickl. "People will end up in jail, they'll end up on the street. They will not have access to medications."

The teams also help with groceries, and keeping patient homes clean.

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