State OKs River Region adolescent psych unit

Published 11:58 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

River Region Health System was given a green light Thursday by the state to install a 20-bed adolescent psychiatric unit on the vacant second floor of the West Campus on North Frontage Road.

A certificate of need for the addition was OK’d by the Mississippi State Department of Health, the final step in the state’s process for managing health care services. Capital costs on the project total $805,058, an agency release said.

Renovating 8,855 square feet of space on the second floor’s east wing into two day rooms, two group rooms, a seclusion room, a dining room and a nurse station will take about five months, according to River Region’s application filed with the agency. Staffing plans 16 full-time personnel including a chief psychiatrist, new hires for nursing, social work, activity therapists and others at an annual cost of $1,082,640.

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All the hospital’s behavioral health services would be housed in the structure formerly home to Vicksburg Medical Center. Two units on the third floor are for adults ages 18 to 54 and for those 55 and older. The hospital based its application to build the unit on the need to provide more inpatient psychiatric services for adolescents in Warren and surrounding counties.

“Those in need will be able to receive specialized treatment close to home,” said Diane Gawronski, vice president of marketing.

“We are pleased to have been granted approval of the certificate of need for the addition of a 20-bed adolescent psychiatric unit on our West Campus,” CEO Doug Sills said in a statement. “This will enhance the continuum of care offered through our behavioral health services.”

Pending no appeals or delays, the hospital plans to open the unit in the third quarter of this year, said Glenn T. Carney, River Region’s chief operations officer.

A similar facility for Vicksburg planned by Brentwood Health Management was approved by the state in 2001 but yanked in 2007 due to inaction on the project.

River Region, one of 126 hospitals operated by Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems, has 261 general acute-care beds, 40 adult psychiatric beds, 28 adult chemical dependency beds, 12 adolescent chemical dependency beds and 31 long-term care beds, which are temporarily de-licensed, the application says.

The parent company is the second-largest publicly traded hospital chain in the U.S., behind Nashville-based HCA Holdings Inc., which re-entered the stock market March 9.