Additionally, health systems warned that their emergency departments and hospitals were filling up with patients unable to find an inpatient psychiatric bed, amid an unprecedented level of behavioral health patients visiting the emergency room. Last week, Massachusetts hospitals said they had nearly 560 patients confined to a hospital awaiting an inpatient psychiatric bed.
Kate Walsh, CEO of the Boston Medical Center Health System, said her hospital was not immune to these challenges, with patients also being housed at her hospital.
The desire to open more psychiatric beds was further motivated by the broader needs of BMC Health System, which includes the hospital and BMC’s insurer, WellSense Health Plan. Data showed that 25 percent of system patients on the state’s Medicaid program who were released from a psychiatric facility returned to the hospital within 30 days.
“We know we can do better than that with the programming facility here,” Walsh said.
Walsh added that the facility would accommodate patients with substance use disorders and other mental health conditions, who often struggle to find placements in treatment facilities or psychiatric hospitals.
Ryan Boxill, behavioral health manager for BMC Health System, said the program would be unique in treating substance use disorders along with other mental health conditions and physical conditions in one place.
“We recognize that substance use disorder is a mental health disorder. You cannot appropriately treat or effectively treat substance use disorders without having a conversation about other mental health disorders like PTSD. said Boxil. “The benefit of having a program based on an academic medicine model is that we are addressing their physical health and substance use disorders as well as their other mental health conditions.”
The program will also connect to the University Medical Center, providing training for residents and fellows in many BMC programs.
The $41 million project was partially supported by a MassHealth incentive program, which financially assisted hospitals that open inpatient psychiatric beds this year. Additionally, the state legislature provided $12 million in public funding to redevelop the property and cover a significant portion of the project’s capital costs. The facility would not have been possible without state support, Walsh said.
“When we called for the development of additional psychiatric inpatient capacity, Boston Medical Center was one of the first hospitals to respond,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, in a statement. “Today we see the fruits of that commitment.”
The project also received a $6 million donation from an anonymous donor, who helped renovate the facility to be net zero for carbon emissions from energy. Geothermal heating and cooling systems. combined with solar panels, will supply all the energy needs of the installation.
Danna Mauch, CEO of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, said the new beds would help solve the state’s mental health crisis.
But new inpatient psychiatric beds, created by state health systems, are only one element, Mauch said. The state still needs to increase resources at home and in the community so that patients can be released from an inpatient bed in a timely manner. Patients also need community interventions before they are in crisis.
“I don’t think anyone will say these beds aren’t necessary,” Mauch said. “In an ideal world, with a robust, fully operational and staffed home and community system, [we would] being ahead of the challenges people face.
The state also has a number of inpatient beds it cannot open due to staffing issues, and it was unclear whether BMC was hiring staff for the new facility from other beleaguered programs.
Boxill said while it was unclear where his staff might have previously been employed, the majority of those hired are from Brockton and surrounding areas. A total of 175 full-time and part-time employees will eventually be hired for the facility.
Although BMC has managed to staff the operation, its management will remain a financial challenge. Despite significant state assistance—from both the capital commitment and higher reimbursements from the state Medicaid program for their work—reimbursements for psychiatric care are still far lower than those for problems. medical.
Still, caring for the behavioral health of his patients is critical given the needs of a large portion of patients and system members, Boxill said. Of members insured by BMC’s WellSense health plan and BMC patients combined, nearly half have a behavioral health diagnosis, accounting for 80% of healthcare system spending.
Walsh succinctly explained the reasons for the investment. “That’s what our patients need.”