Southcoast Health announces inpatient behavioral health hospital in Dartmouth

DARTMOUTH, Mass. -A 120-bed inpatient behavioral health hospital on Faunce Corner Road in Dartmouth is being built by Acadia Healthcare, a national leader in psychiatric and addiction care, in partnership with the leading healthcare provider in Southeastern Massachusetts, Southcoast Health.

“There is no single more urgent healthcare issue facing our state and our region than the shortage of high-quality medical care for our loved ones struggling with behavioral health issues,” said Keith Hovan, President and CEO of Southcoast Health. “The South Coast has excellent behavioral health providers who work hard to meet the difficult and growing needs of our region. Despite this fact, we lack the capacity needed to care for these patients. Every single day our Southcoast hospital emergency rooms and behavioral health workers treat dozens of patients who will benefit from the kind of professional, caring facility that we intend to operate in conjunction with Acadia.”

Southcoast Health and Acadia have engaged in productive and extensive conversations regarding the need for behavioral health services in our region and are in the process of finalizing a joint venture agreement for operation of the facility.

“We are excited to partner with Southcoast Health and work together to provide a full complement of behavioral health services for the communities of Southeastern Massachusetts,” said Joey Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Acadia. “There is a tremendous need for these services, not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the United States. This new hospital is designed to be state of the art and will promote healing and safety for our patients and their families.”

Slated to open in the fall of 2015, the facility will consist of five core units dedicated to the spectrum of behavioral health needs from adolescent care to geriatric psychiatry, including units dedicated to adult psychiatry and adult substance abuse. The hospital, which will be the first for Acadia in New England, will be more than 77,000 square feet and located on a 21 acre site with parking for 218 cars.

Congressman William Keating, a leader in the fight against opioid addiction and for better care for behavioral health patients, said the facility is urgently needed by families grappling with the tragedy of substance abuse.

“I hear constantly from those seeking treatment for an addicted or psychologically fragile family member that they are shuttled from emergency rooms to seemingly endless waiting lists in order to get their father or mother, son or daughter or sibling into quality care in a professional setting,” Keating said. “For families across our region, a place like this can be life changing.”

Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III added: “Throughout Southeastern Massachusetts, there is a need to increase access to treatment for substance abuse and other behavioral healthcare. By more than doubling the number of inpatient beds along the South Coast, this partnership between Southcoast Health and Acadia Healthcare will not only expand treatment options, but will also save lives across the region. I commend all of those who have worked tirelessly to support this facility, and I look forward to its opening in 2015.”

In addition to this project, Southcoast Health and Acadia will continue to build upon the work already being done with local behavioral health organizations in Southeastern Massachusetts. This past November, Southcoast Health hosted the region’s first Behavioral Health Summit with Representative Patricia A. Haddad and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, bringing to the forefront the critical need for behavioral health services in the region. This partnership with Acadia complements the groundwork laid at that event by Southcoast and its community partners, and subsequently their work as part of the CHART grant for St. Luke’s Hospital.

In January, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission’s Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, and Transformation (CHART) Investment Program awarded a grant to St. Luke’s to support the reduction of behavioral health emergency department visits by creating an asset map and linkages with community providers, developing best practices and protocols and establishing evidence-based medication therapies, as well as to support planning for a medication management clinic to serve the needs of behavioral health patients.

“Southcoast has worked hard over the past several years to collaborate and link with the wide range of behavioral health providers in our communities, including agencies, faith-based organizations and community support groups,” said Reverend David Lima, the Executive Minister of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, who has worked closely on suicide prevention efforts. “We have strong consensus that our regional services, particularly inpatient services, are stretched beyond capacity, with long wait times and patients often having to seek care outside of our region. This partnership between Southcoast and Acadia will benefit all behavioral health providers in our region by helping to alleviate many of the pressures that constrict our behavioral health system.”

Senator Mark Montigny, former Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care and co-sponsor of mental health parity legislation, added: “This new facility will provide a critical service to patients with behavioral health issues. Society lacks compassion when it comes to treating people with mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse challenges. It should be our utmost priority to ensure that those afflicted by these conditions receive the same treatment and care as those with physical ailments.”

Southcoast Health encompasses 33 communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, serving more than 700,000 patients. Across the Southcoast system, the emergency departments see an average of 36 new behavioral health visits every day. A fair number of those visits are patients returning to the emergency department because there was a lapse in care.

“This type of facility has been needed in the South Coast for decades,” said Representative Chris Markey. “The commitment by Southcoast Health and Acadia to drastically increase these much-needed services is a testament to their commitment to this region. Their willingness to take on the challenge of helping this underserved population is something that we should be thankful for.

“In the South Coast, there are currently four healthcare facilities with a total of 92 inpatient behavioral health beds. The new behavioral health hospital will more than double the area’s total capacity. These capabilities will allow patients in the region to seek treatment close to home rather than travel outside the community.

“The current system is fractured,” said Representative Haddad, Speaker Pro Tempore and co-chair of the Massachusetts General Court’s Mental Health Advisory Committee. “Making more beds available is a must and this is an extraordinarily positive development. We have talked about solving this terrible crisis for years. A lot of behavioral health professionals have worked extremely hard for a long time to fix this issue and it’s long overdue that we provide the help that they need.”

The construction project – estimated at $30 million – will lead to roughly 150 job opportunities for local construction workers. Once complete, there will be approximately 250 jobs at the facility.

“The Southcoast Health/Acadia Healthcare partnership has great potential to confront the critical need in our region for the treatment of individuals suffering from mental health disorders and substance abuse issues,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman. “UMass Dartmouth looks forward to engaging our faculty and students in research and education initiatives that support this effort to deal with one of the fastest growing healthcare challenges in the nation.”