New Behavioral Health Hospital is Designed to Provide a Sanctuary for Healing

May 22, 2023
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Construction for Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital In Affiliation with Baystate Health is expected to be completed by the end of June and the opening is scheduled for August 15, 2023. This joint venture between Baystate Health and Lifepoint Behavioral Health will allow for specialized care for behavioral health patients in our region.

The new facility in Holyoke will increase capacity for inpatient behavioral healthcare for adults, children, and adolescents in the area by 50 percent. Built with the unique needs of behavioral health patients in mind, the $72 million facility is designed so patients receive their care and treatment in an environment that supports their recovery.

Creating an Environment that Enhances Care

“We are extremely excited to be providing a brand new, state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital facility for our communities in the Pioneer Valley,” says Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Health. “Hospital care for behavioral health patients requires a specialized environment of care to ensure safety, comfort and privacy for patients, and a setting for a full range of therapeutic services to support their recovery. Our new facility is spacious and will have an abundance of natural light. It includes ample spaces for psychotherapy, rooms for art and occupational therapy, a gymnasium for physical activity and recreation, and access to outdoor spaces for fresh air. Psychiatric patients deserve to be treated in an environment of care that supports their dignity and we’re so pleased to be able to offer this.”

Every detail of the new 150-bed hospital, including 30 beds dedicated to longer term care through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, has been planned with patient safety in mind.

“A benefit of new construction is that patient safety and privacy has been factored into every aspect of the building, from patient rooms to the gymnasium. We have fine-tuned every detail, thought of everything in terms of safety: toilets, window blinds, even door jams. The new building allows us to make use of modern technology to elevate patient safety in a way retrofitting an existing unit could not,” says Roy Sasenaraine, CEO of Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital.

Keeping Care Close to Home

A new service offered by Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital will be on-site evaluations following a provider referral, allowing some patients to be admitted without an Emergency Department visit at a different hospital.

Currently, around one-third of the behavioral health patients evaluated in Baystate Health’s Emergency Departments are transferred to facilities outside of western Massachusetts due to a shortage of psychiatric beds in the region. With the opening of Valley Springs Behavioral Health, more patients will have the opportunity to receive treatment close to home. The hospital’s location in Holyoke is intended to provide accessibility, being close to Route 91, while also providing a facility focused solely on the specialized care for mental health.

Transitioning Care to the New Facility

According to Sasenaraine, the new facility will also provide employment opportunities in the area with the chance to make a positive impact on the lives of patients and families in the community. Employees currently working in facilities whose services will be transferred to Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital will have the opportunity to apply for positions there, in addition there will be opportunities for new employees to be a part of the joint venture.

“For many people, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of building a new organization from the ground up,” says Sasenaraine CEO.

Behavioral health services from Baystate Wing Hospital and Baystate Noble Hospital, as well as pediatric behavioral health services from Baystate Medical Center, will begin to transition to the new Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital in August. Spaces in those facilities will then be converted to primary and specialty care or will be used to accommodate the increasing demand for inpatient medical services.

Baystate Health is working closely with the Department of Public Health (DPH) during this transition. The affected inpatient facilities are expected to be fully transitioned by the end of the year, with most completing the move in the fall, and partial hospitalization programs transitioning by January 2024. As Baystate Health works with DPH to facilitate the established transition protocol, a series of formal notices will be made, public hearings will be held, and DPH will work with Baystate Health to assure patient access needs are met. This process will begin about four months before the intended full transition for each affected unit, starting in late May for Baystate Wing, mid-June for Baystate Medical Center, late June for Baystate Noble, and July for the partial hospitalization at Baystate Franklin. Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital will be affiliated with the full array of psychiatric services operated directly by Baystate Health. This includes our 28 bed Adult Psychiatric Treatment Unit (APTU) at Baystate Medical Center which serves as a primary site of training for medical students and psychiatric residents within UMass Chan Medical School-Baystate educational programs. This unit has a unique role in the care of patients with co-occurring and complex medical issues requiring the resources of a general hospital. The Department of Psychiatry will also continue to operate its large array of ambulatory behavioral health services, psychiatric consultation services, emergency psychiatric services, and programs supporting mental health treatment in the primary care setting.

In addition, Baystate Health will continue to operate its 22 bed Mental Health Unit (MHU) at Baystate Franklin Medical Center which provides inpatient behavioral healthcare for patients in Greenfield and surrounding communities. According to Ronald Bryant, president, Baystate Regional Hospitals, the recent decision to keep this unit open was made based on geography and Baystate Franklin’s strong history of integration of behavioral health services, such as the 24/7 presence of recovery coaches in the Emergency Department.

Bryant says, “Baystate Franklin has spent many years building strength in behavioral health practices that really connects with a lot of the other types of care provided. We didn’t want to lose the continuity of that integration.”

Fulfilling our Mission

With the shortage of inpatient psychiatric services in our community and the increasing mental health needs within the population, Dr. Sarvet says that the new facility is a necessity. According to Dr. Sarvet, the decision to partner with Lifepoint in the Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital project was made considering their proven expertise in the development of new specialty hospitals and their commitment to quality of care.

“We care deeply about people who need psychiatric services, are committed to the success of this new project,” says Dr. Sarvet. In developing this new hospital with our Lifepoint partners, we are continuing and enhancing our commitment to fulfilling the mental health needs of people in our region.”

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