Planned mental health hospital ‘long overdue’

Officials at Silver Cross hospital have proposed partnering with another firm to open a mental health hospital in New Lenox. (Silver Cross Hospital photo)

Alicia FabbreDaily Southtown

A new facility planned in New Lenox could help provide mental health services to area residents, as well as help alleviate pressure on Will County programs dealing with mental health and drug addiction issues.

Silver Cross Hospital plans to partner with a national firm to build a $22 million behavioral health hospital to help address the need for such services in Will County.

Plans call for the bulk of the funding for the new facility to be financed through U.S. HealthVest, a for-profit agency that provides behavior health services and for services to be provided on a sliding fee scale to accommodate those who are uninsured or underinsured. The 100-bed facility, which would be named Silver Oaks, would be located on the Silver Cross Hospital campus in New Lenox.

Hospital officials expect to apply to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for a certificate of need in February. If approved by the state board, construction on the $22 million behavioral health hospital could begin in the late summer and it could open in 2019.

“This is going to be a vast improvement for mental health services in Will County,” Silver Cross Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Pawlak said.

The two-story, 68,000 square foot facility would sit on five acres of the hospital’s 188 acre campus at Route 6 and Interstate 355 in New Lenox. It would provide acute mental health and substance abuse in-patient services. Out-patient services also would be available.

“I welcome this expansion,” said New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann. “I am confident in their ability to provide a much, much needed service not only for the residents of New Lenox but all of Will County.”

U.S. HealthVest operates Chicago Behavioral Hospital in DesPlaines and two facilities in Georgia. A facility near Seattle is expected to open later this year.

U.S. HealthVest President Richard Kresch could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said the proposed facility would provide much-needed services for people in the county’s specialty court programs such as drug court and mental health court. Both programs are aimed at providing assistance to those in the justice system who have addiction issues or mental health needs

“In order (for those programs) to be functioning at their peak, we need a facility like this,” Glasgow said.

In a press release about the proposed expansion, Will County Executive Larry Walsh noted the county set a new record for heroin overdose deaths last year and that the proposed facility would be an “important asset as we continue to fight heroin abuse in our county.”

Though the proposed facility would not provide long-term treatment, it would provide a place for heroin users or other drug users to “dry out.” The facility also would provide extensive out-patient services and work with other agencies to secure long-term treatment if needed for a particular patient, hospital officials said.

“Stabilization should be done in a hospital facility, not a jail,” said Will County Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, who presided over drug court and now presides over the county’s veterans court program. Policandriotes approached Silver Cross last year about expanding services to include a facility such as the one proposed.

Officials Wednesday also noted the closure of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center in 2012 left a void in mental health care. They also noted Will and Grundy counties combined have only 75 beds — or 10.15 for every 100,00 people — dedicated for mental health care. Experts recommend 40-50 beds for every 100,000 people, hospital officials noted.

“Will County is a county of almost 700,000 people,” Glasgow said. “This is long overdue.”

Alicia Fabbre is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

As usual, I invite you to leave a comment below. I would love to hear your take on this issue.

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Until next time,

Kevin

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