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Utah's psychiatric health care industry, which has been characterized as having too many beds and too few patients, experienced its first casualty Tuesday with the closure of Riverwood Hospital in Provo.

Meg Carter, vice president of communications and investor relations for Ramsey Health Care of Sydney, Australia, which owned Riverwood, said the closure was part of the company's efforts to consolidate its holdings. The corporation has 16 psychiatric hospitals across the United States. Another Utah facility owned by Ramsey, Benchmark Regional Hospital in Woods Cross, is not affected by the closure.Fears that the closure of Riverwood Hospital may signal the impending closure of additional psychiatric facilities in the state are unfounded, according to Dr. Robert Burton, director of the Utah Hospital Association.

"I think this closure is specific to that hospital rather than a trend in the industry," Burton said. "Other psychiatric facilities seem to be fairly healthy. The configuration of that facility was difficult to begin with because it was located across the street from one of its main competitors (Utah Valley Regional Medical Center). Riverwood was a member of our association, and we're sad to see them go.

"There is definitely a need for this kind of service," Burton said. "Medical/surgical hospitals serve a need in one area; psychiatric hospitals serve another kind of need."

Burton said the Utah Hospital Association received a courtesy call Monday about Riverwood's closure.

Forty-nine people had been employed at Riverwood. Six administrative employees have been temporarily retained by the corporation; several will be offered permanent employment.

Burton said that if former Riverwood employees contact his office, he will assist them in locating employment by contacting other facilities that are members of the association and letting them know the employees are available. Utah County psychiatric facilities that are members of the Utah Hospital Association are Mountain View Hospital in Payson, Charter Canyon Hospital in Orem and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.

Nine patients - three adults and six adolescents - being treated at Riverwood were relocated Tuesday to Mountain View.

Michael Graham, administrator at Mountain View, said the hospital was asked to accommodate the patients because the physicians who admitted them to Riverwood also have practice privileges at Mountain View, and the hospital's psychiatric unit can provide the same treatment the patients had been receiving at Riverwood.

Two additional employees have been added to the psychiatric unit at Mountain View.

Riverwood Hospital was opened three years ago by Healthcare Services of America. A majority interest in HSA was bought by Ramsey one year ago. In the past year Ramsey has sold three free-standing chemical-dependency centers and a 50-bed psychiatric hospital, in Idaho Falls, as part of its consolidation efforts. Carter said there are no plans to close other facilities at the present time.