GHS to replace Marshall Pickens with new 120-bed psychiatric hospital

First joint venture of health system's private new model

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The Greenville Health System (GHS) and the national psychiatric hospital giant Acadia Healthcare have formed a joint venture to build a $64 million, 120-bed hospital on GHS’ main campus. The new 80,000-square-foot inpatient behavioral health hospital is expected to open in March 2018, replacing Marshall I. Pickens Hospital and its 46 beds.

“This $64 million new state-of-the-art hospital will provide greater access to people who need these services,” says Mike Riordan, president and chief executive officer of the Strategic Coordinating Organization (SCO), a new private, nonprofit entity that helped to negotiate the joint venture with Acadia Healthcare. The SCO was formed as part of GHS’ transition to a private organization for the purpose of planning mergers, partnerships and joint ventures.

Riordan and other GHS officials emphasized at a Nov. 15 public announcement of the new hospital that the joint venture could not have occurred had GHS remained in its public, nonprofit model instead of transitioning in October to its new private, nonprofit model.

Dr. Kenneth Rogers

“We’re going to start initially with 65 beds,” says Dr. Kenneth Rogers, medical director and chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at GHS. The new hospital will expand child and adolescent services, which currently has only six beds. This probably will be tripled, Rogers says.

“We’ll also begin to develop alcohol and substance use treatment services, which we currently don’t have in our facility,” Rogers says. “We’ll continue to have general adult inpatient services.”

Other services will include geropsychiatry, adolescent psychiatry, and intensive outpatient therapy.

Acadia Healthcare has 591 hospital facilities in the United States, Puerto Rico, and United Kingdom, and the joint venture with GHS will create its sixth joint venture hospital, says Joey Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of the Franklin, Tenn.-based company.

The company’s hospitals span 39 states, and it has about 17,800 beds. Its services include behavioral health and addiction services to its patients in inpatient psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, outpatient clinics and therapeutic school-based programs. “We’re a leader in addiction services, substance abuse, and psychiatric trauma.”

Dr Spence Taylor at new hospital announcement - Nov 15 2016
Dr. Spence Taylor

Marshall Pickens will be closed after the new hospital opens, and its facility likely will be used for other purposes, such as oncology and outpatient services, says Dr. Spence Taylor, president of the Upstate Affiliate Organization (UAO), which, as a private, nonprofit organization, handles the health system’s operations.

One of the ongoing issues with meeting a community’s mental health needs is that there often are too few behavioral and mental health professionals, including psychiatrists to meet the need. This is part of the reason why GHS sought the joint venture with Acadia, GHS officials said.

A new hospital for behavioral health will generate excitement and attract physicians, residents and other professionals to the area, Taylor predicts.

“We have four psychiatric residents per year,” he says. “This will be an exciting pipeline for the Upstate.”

One of the new hospital’s focus will be on training public first responders, including police and emergency technicians, on how to handle encounters with people who have behavioral and mental health problems, Taylor says.

The joint venture announcement falls on the heels of the presidential election and the possible repeal of part of the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded the number of people insured in the U.S. over the past six years. But this change is unlikely to have a big impact on the behavioral health industry, Jacobs notes.

“Like everyone else, we’re waiting to see what happens, but the Affordable Care Act didn’t impact our industry like the rest of health care,” he says. “And because South Carolina did not do a Medicaid expansion under the ACA, the change will have less of an impact.”

Here’s a video of Dr. Ken Rogers talking about the new hospital:

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