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MDHHS clears way for new mental health hospital



BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has given the final go-ahead for a new behavioral health hospital in Kent County.

Southridge Behavioral Hospital will be built near the Trinity Health Medical Center on 64th Street in Byron Center. Trinity Health Michigan has partnered with Universal Health Services to operate the new facility.

Southridge will hold 96 beds, including 60 beds for adults and 24 for geriatric patients. The hospital is expected to maintain about 170 full- and part-time employees. Trinity officials expect the new facility to tie seamlessly into its growing network of behavioral health services in the Grand Rapids area, including Forest View Hospital and a new walk-in center to be operated by Network180.

“It is a strategic imperative that we prioritize solutions for individuals in crisis presenting to local hospitals,” Dr. Matt Biersack, president of Trinity Health Saint Mary’s, said in a release. “The new facility will be a receiving site enabling initiation of appropriate care, faster.”

Southridge Behavioral Hospital is expected to open in 2024.

MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY

Mental health officials in West Michigan have been sounding the alarm for the past two years after seeing a need for help rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the pandemic has certainly played a role, Bob Nykamp, the vice president of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, said reducing the stigma around mental health has allowed more people to feel comfortable coming forward.

But right now, local mental health facilities are stretched thin, turning away more patients because they simply don’t have room.

“We think we are in an emergency,” Nykamp said.

In January, Pine Rest opened a new inpatient campus for people seeking help with substance use disorders, but its request to add 40 more permanent beds to its adult psychiatric unit was denied by the state.

According to Nykamp, the state gave temporary approval to allow 40 beds for three years, but not permanent beds. Nykamp told News 8 that the company can’t afford to expand its facility without a promise that the facilities can be filled going forward.

“Our board of directors is pretty clear,” Nykamp said. “They’re not going to allow us to spend $6+ million on renovating a facility for temporary beds that we might not have in three years.”





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