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Hundreds of New Jobs, Treatment Beds Planned for Hospital Desired for Covington

Hundreds of new jobs and a new answer to the lack of treatment beds for those struggling with drug addiction may soon land in Covington, according to an announcement.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare, SUN Behavioral Health, and NorthKey Community Care have teamed up to develop a community-wide solution to the lack of access to inpatient behavioral health and chemical dependency resources for children, adolescents, and adults in Northern Kentucky.

The plans call for a new 197-bed free-standing comprehensive specialty hospital.

St. Elizabeth plans to transfer 140 of its behavioral health and chemical dependency beds to the new facility and NorthKey plans to transfer its behavioral health beds to increase overall bed capacity to the new hospital when completed.

The hospital will be jointly owned by St. Elizabeth Healthcare and SUN Behavioral Health. The preferred location is in Kenton County, according to a news release. Various approval processes are under way.

“We all believe and have consistently said that a comprehensive solution to behavioral health issues involves substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, law enforcement, family support, community support and education,” said Garren Colvin, St. Elizabeth Interim President and Chief Executive Officer. “All of the organizations involved want to be part of the solution, and this collaboration is an important piece of the puzzle.”

The joint venture complements other recently announced initiatives that will add to the overall services available in Northern Kentucky, including St. Elizabeth’s partnership with Hazelden/Betty Ford, the integration of behavioral health counseling services into St. Elizabeth Physicians primary care practices, and the behavioral health/chemical dependency screening programs implemented in physician practices and maternal fetal offices.

“The community is currently underserved, especially for adolescents,” said Steve Page, President and CEO of SUN. “This collaboration expands and improves integrated inpatient behavioral healthcare services available in Northern Kentucky. The new hospital will showcase our mission to increase access and bring a full continuum of high quality services to those suffering from mental illnesses and chemical dependency in the entire community."

The new facility will enhance the environment of care for patients, providers and families. A behavioral health emergency department will provide specialized assessment and treatment to patients and families in times of crisis. Specialized inpatient wings will group patients into personalized programs to provide for the unique requirements of patients according to their ages and behavioral health needs. These programs will create an ideal environment for group therapies and individualized care.

In addition, this partnership provides an opportunity to develop:

  • Comprehensive behavioral health services based on proven best practice models.
  • Increased access and education for the community.  
  • Improved coordination of existing services and resources in the community to extend the continuum of care for patients focusing on each organization’s strengths and capabilities.
  • Improved safety for behavioral health patients in the specialty hospital emergency department.
  • Serene and therapeutic environment designed specifically for patient population needs.
  • A full array of services with tailored treatment options and comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care.
  • A more appropriate portal of admission for behavioral health patients in crisis than what currently exists.
  • The ability to attract additional behavioral health and chemical dependency providers.

“The Northern Kentucky MH-MR Regional Board is extremely pleased to be a part of a plan that is sure to greatly benefit our community for years to come,” said Dr. Owen Nichols, President and CEO of NorthKey. “This type of endeavor reflects the long held tradition of Northern Kentucky bringing resources together to meet the needs of the community in a progressive and efficient manner. Our community is faced with many behavioral healthcare challenges at this time and the heroin epidemic has brought this to the forefront of our collective awareness, but chemical dependency is just one element of our broader community needs, which must be addressed in a collaborative fashion. This cooperative plan by SUN, St. Elizabeth, and NorthKey is a wonderful step in the right direction to ensure that we meet a wide range of our community behavioral healthcare needs.” 

“An increase in treatment beds will allow us to keep our children in our community for behavioral health and chemical dependency treatment,” said John LaCount, Pediatric Physician at St. Elizabeth Physicians. “It is important to have family nearby to complete recovery. This will benefit families and patients.” There is also an economic aspect. There will be approximately 400 total jobs of which approximately 270 are new jobs. This will generate additional payroll tax revenue for the city of Covington, according to the news release.

-Staff report

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