MCH, MMH spearhead mental health effort

Medical Center Hospital and Midland Memorial Hospital are launching a joint effort to improve behavioral/mental health services in the Permian Basin.

The goal is to eventually build a new facility that will offer both inpatient and outpatient services,” MCH President and CEO Russell Tippin said.

“Currently we have to ship people to San Angelo or El Paso for these services,” Tippin said. “It’s mind-blowing that there’s not a major medical health provider in our area.

“There’s such a large deficit in our area when it comes to mental health. We need to address these needs.”

Tippin and MMH President and CEO Russell Meyers have been discussing the issue for a long time and agree behavioral health services are the “greatest need” facing the Permian Basin.

Both hospital boards have already approved the joint effort proposed by Tippin and Meyers.

“We’ve already been working on this, but it’s still in its infancy,” Meyers said. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

Midland and Odessa do have some mental health resources already, but not enough, Meyers said.

Approximately 1 out of every 4 people requires some sort of behavioral health services, said Meyers, referring to national study findings.

“There’s just not enough, or comprehensive enough services available locally,” Meyers said. “We’re not just talking about Midland and Odessa, we’re talking about the Permian Basin and providing services to a half million people.”

The next step is to form a focus group to identify needed services, Tippin said. For example, should a new facility focus on services for youth, adults or both?

Tippin and Meyers have already started discussing the project with federal, state and local governmental leaders.

“The feedback we’ve received at the federal, state and local level has been great,” Tippin said. “It’s already growing legs.”

How much such a facility might cost, where it would be located, or completed has not yet been determined, Tippin said. The project would need to be funded by a combination of local, federal and state dollars.

“The first major hurdle will be funding,” Tippin acknowledged. “A joint venture like this will make it easier to get funded.

“This is another example of what we can accomplish when people work together — the patient is the winner.”