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Nashville is getting a new 76-bed mental health hospital

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Saint Thomas Health plans to build a new hospital dedicated to mental health in Metro Central.
Brett M Kelman, The Tennessean

As Nashville continues to struggle with an overwhelming need for mental health care, state officials have approved plans for a new behavioral health facility in the city’s Metro Center area.

The 76-bed hospital, a joint venture from Saint Thomas Health and Acadia Healthcare, is expected to open in 2020, according to a new release issued on Thursday. The facility will include 40 adult psychiatric beds, providing inpatient care and substance abuse services, and 36 geriatric psychiatric beds, the release said.

“The demand for behavioral healthcare across the country and in Middle Tennessee is extraordinary today, and projections for the future indicate demand will only increase,” said Dr. Jeffrey Woods, division president of Acadia Healthcare, in the news release.

“The joint venture partnership with Saint Thomas Health will fill a care gap for behavioral health patients by providing adequate access to care for the Nashville community and beyond.”

The new hospital has been proposed at a time when Nashville’s need for mental health treatment has likely never been greater. As the city grows at a booming pace, experts say options for mental health treatment have fallen behind, pushing treatment out of reach for many low-income and uninsured residents. Without more specialized facilities, most mental health patients end up mixed in with the physically sick and injured at hospital emergency rooms, waiting to be transferred to somewhere with more appropriate psychiatric services.

MORE: Mental health patients are flooding Nashville hospitals. So Saint Thomas is building a new one.

Saint Thomas first announced plans for this hospital in May, saying they expected to spend $32 million to built the facility on an empty, five acre lot at 300 Great Circle Road. The plan was recently approved by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency, which is required to certify that medical facilities are necessary before they are built.

Tim Adams, the Saint Thomas CEO, said in May they had no doubts that the facility would be approved. The need, Adams said, was ever-present.

“There are people in our ERs right now that need a bed,” Adams said. “Many times, they get left in the ER for hours and sometimes days, unfortunately, because of our inability to find a place for them. So we are really just meeting a community need.”

Once built, the new hospital will become the tenth Saint Thomas facility in Middle Tennessee, but the first dedicated wholly to mental health. The facility will be similar in design and organization to the recently opened Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital in Chattanooga.

Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at bmkelman@gannett.com.