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Analysis of Adult Bed Capacity

The Milwaukee County mental health system has seen several changes over the past few years, reflecting a move to a more recovery-oriented and community-focused system of care; this reflects the recommendation of a 2010 report produced by the Human Services Research Institute, Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Public Policy Forum. A decreased reliance on crisis response and inpatient care is another important goal of such a reform.

Between 2011 and 2013, the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division (BHD) experienced a 14% reduction in the utilization of Psychiatric Crisis Services (PCS) and a 30% decrease in admissions to its adult inpatient units at the Mental Health Complex. As a result, BHD has begun downsizing its bed capacity with the stated intent of increasing its community-based services. While there is general support for reducing the county’s reliance on a hospital-based system, particularly among service recipients themselves, total inpatient admissions across Milwaukee County hospitals remain consistent and questions have arisen about the adult psychiatric inpatient capacity in the county.

This report provides an analysis of adult psychiatric inpatient bed capacity in Milwaukee County. It looks at aspects of the behavioral health system based on available data (inpatient, outpatient, crisis services, case management, evidence-based practices, etc.), recommends adult psychiatric inpatient bed capacity for Milwaukee County based on current utilization, and suggests considerations for determining future inpatient bed need.