May 9, 2012
Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) has chosen a site in Davidson, N.C. for a new 66-bed behavioral health hospital.
“We are eager to move forward with this project and begin building on our promise to provide more behavioral health services for those who desperately need them in our community,” said Dr. Roger Ray, Chief Medical Officer of CHS. “This new hospital will help us address a profound, unmet need in a professional, respectful, patient centric environment.”
The state of North Carolina began down-sizing state psychiatric hospitals following the passage of the Mental Health Reform Act of 2001. To date, about half of the state-operated hospital beds have closed. Mecklenburg County is experiencing a serious shortage of available beds for behavioral health patients, which results in some patients being held in observation in hospital emergency departments or acute care beds while waiting for placement.
The new facility will include a single-story, 67,280-square-foot hospital with large activity and living areas that will open to self-contained landscaped courtyards for outdoor recreation in a private, secure environment. The 23-acre site also will have a medical office building with 10,000 square feet. CHS and the land owner have an agreement for the sale of the property, which is on Hwy. 73 about a quarter-mile east of Ramah Church Road.
The hospital will feature all private rooms and will employ about 155 full time staff, including physicians and other clinicians. The design will allow expansion by adding a second floor if a future need is determined, and if additional beds are approved by the NC Division of Health Service Regulation. Total estimated cost is about $36 million.
John Woods, Mayor of Davidson, said that the town board is solidly behind the project. “We couldn't be more thrilled at the prospect of having a quality facility such as this one in the town of Davidson,” Woods said. “Our community already benefits from other CHS services, including physician practices. We know the kind of commitment CHS and its employees make to the community. We believe this new project will be a model for behavioral healthcare, not just for Davidson but for the entire region.”
“Our emergency rooms and inpatient medical beds are getting backed up with patients whose needs are better met in a mental health facility,” said Dr. Thomas Batchelor, an internist in Huntersville. “Many of these patients wait days to weeks in the ER for an inpatient mental health bed to open. The trickle down effect is enormous and even affects my care of patients in the outpatient setting. This is a national problem but I have seen it first hand locally.”
“The reality today is that many people in our community are in a state of crisis and need the help and assistance that the behavioral health hospital will bring,” said the Rev. Farrell Lemmings, lead pastor at Grace Covenant Church in Cornelius.
“At times life gets difficult and we find ourselves overwhelmed emotionally and the quality of our lives and our families are detrimentally affected. At these times we need the professional help that qualified personnel can bring. Just as our other hospitals play a role in the health of our community so I believe the behavioral health hospital will be an asset as well.”
Dr. Ray said the new hospital will be patient-focused to deliver excellent care for behavioral health patients and their families. “We are very excited that the town of Davidson recognized the importance of this facility and understands it will be a tremendous compliment to the community,” Dr. Ray said. “This hospital and the highly-professional staff in Davidson will create a peaceful, healing environment for those patients who deserve the very best in behavioral healthcare.”
The new site is close to several CHS facilities in the north Mecklenburg and Lake Norman area, including Huntersville and Cornelius. The site provides easy access to I-77 and I-85 via Hwy. 73, and will allow CHS to provide a continuum of care in conjunction with its other facilities.
The new hospital will serve a broad range of patients who suffer from chronic mental health disorders or have more acute, episodic needs such as psychotic, mood or anxiety disorders. It also will offer outpatient behavioral health services in a separate, dedicated building specifically designed for outpatient care and therapy.
As stated in the original Certificate of Need application approved by the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation (NCDHSR), the 66 beds will be a transfer of inpatient psychiatric beds from Broughton Hospital in Morganton (Burke County). Transfers of psychiatric beds are occurring in other communities across the state pursuant to a state policy encouraging the transfer of beds from state psychiatric hospitals to community facilities.
CHS will ask the NCDHSR for approval to move the site to Davidson from the previous location in Huntersville, N.C. Pending state approval of the request, site preparation and construction could begin this summer, with completion in the second half of 2013. A zoning request for the original site planned in Huntersville was not approved by the Huntersville Board of Commissioners. The Davidson site does not require re-zoning.