/////Inpatient Mental Health Unit Opens in Northwest Arkansas
Inpatient Mental Health Unit Opens in Northwest Arkansas 2018-06-05T18:09:00+00:00

(Left to right) Smith, Doug Arnold, Northwest Medical System chief executive officer and Gov. Beebe in a discussion following the ceremony.
(Left to right) Smith, Doug Arnold, Northwest
Medical System chief executive officer and Gov.
Beebe in a discussion following the ceremony.

Michael Hollomon, M.D., medical director at the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute – Northwest, speaks at the April 29 ceremony.
Michael Hollomon, M.D., medical director at the
UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute –
Northwest, speaks at the April 29 ceremony.

G. Richard Smith (left), M.D., director of the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and Gov. Mike Beebe visit during the press conference.
G. Richard Smith (right), M.D., director of the
UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and Gov.
Mike Beebe visit during the press
conference.

 

April 30, 2009 | A new 28-bed adult mental health unit is now open to serve Northwest Arkansas as a result of a venture between six regional partners, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Gov. Mike Beebe participated in a ceremony April 29 to open the acute care Behavioral Health Unit at Northwest Medical Center – Springdale. The unit will begin admitting patients May 5.

“Reforming our mental health care system requires more options for quality care, and these beds create new options in a rapidly growing part of our state,” Beebe said. “Northwest Arkansas has long needed more local facilities for mental health treatment, and with the help of legislators and health care providers, we’ve now been able to make additional beds in Springdale a reality.”

Development of the new program was led by the grassroots Northwest Arkansas Acute Care Mental Health Task Force. UAMS physicians will staff the new unit. Other partners are Northwest Health System; Ozark Guidance; Care Foundation, Inc.; Washington Regional Medical Center; and Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas.

The remodeling cost about $2 million, and the addition of this new service has resulted in 36 new jobs at Northwest Medical Center – Springdale.

The new program provides much-needed additional adult inpatient psychiatric care capacity for Northwest Arkansas and is financed by a combination of more than $1 million in special funds from the governor’s office and appropriations made by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2005 and 2007 also amounting to more than $1 million, for a total of more than $2 million in startup funds..

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a wave of inpatient psychiatry program closures at hospitals. Northwest Health System closed its adult inpatient mental health unit, Highland Hall, in April 2002. When Highland Hall opened in 1977, it was Northwest Arkansas’ first inpatient psychiatry unit.

“Care Foundation is happy to have played a role in developing a solution to address this very real community need,” said Chris Weiser, chairman of the Care Foundation Board of Directors. “Creating better access to essential health care services is one of our areas of primary concern.”

How the coalition works

  • Northwest Health System renovated the vacant fourth floor of Northwest Medical Center – Springdale’s north patient tower for use as a 28-bed adult inpatient mental health unit. The $1.9 million estimated cost is reimbursed by the state funds, administered by fiscal intermediary Ozark Guidance. Northwest Health System, through Ozark Guidance, also receives assistance to help provide acute-care mental health services to the indigent. Northwest Health System operates the unit, providing nursing and support staff and infrastructure for the facility.
  • UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute – Northwest provides psychiatrists and psychiatry resident physicians, along with Medical directorship of the program. It has also established an outpatient clinic to serve the pre- and post-admission needs of some patients, and the program will be used as a teaching site for UAMS psychiatry residency and fellowship programs.
  • Ozark Guidance continues to provide screening, consultative and pre- and post-admission outpatient services and serves as the fiscal intermediary for the state funds.
  • Care Foundation, a local nonprofit that promotes healthy communities, will provide up to $415,000 for startup costs over the first two years. Care Foundation was established in 1998, when Northwest Health System was sold and its assets transferred into an endowment for the community. In 2008, the foundation donated $500,000 to help establish the UAMS Northwest Arkansas satellite campus, which accepts its first students in fall 2009 and will host the psychiatry residency program. 
  • Washington Regional Medical Center and Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas each will provide up to $65,000 a year to pay medical consultations provided to the program’s economically disadvantaged patients.

A cooperative approach
The participating organizations agree that working collaboratively produces the most positive outcome for the people of the greater Northwest Arkansas region.

“This new cooperative approach makes sense because all the participants have a vested interest in the program’s success, but none of us shoulders the full responsibility,” said Doug Arnold, Northwest Health System’s chief executive officer. “We are glad to anchor this program with a new facility and our acute-care expertise.”

“This project has been in the works for more than three years, and I am excited to see it finally come together,” said Michael Hollomon, M.D., medical director of UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute – Northwest. “Not only are we going to be able to treat more patients, but we also will be able to train more physicians, providing them with skills they need to help all Arkansans.”

“What we are doing here will have an impact not just on Northwest Arkansas, but on the state as a whole,” said G. Richard Smith, M.D., director of the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and chairman of UAMS’ Department of Psychiatry. “With this new inpatient unit, and the new UAMS satellite campus in this part of the state, we are changing the path medical care in Arkansas has taken in the past. That path now goes through Northwest Arkansas.”

Tom Petrizzo, chief executive officer of Ozark Guidance, said the program has been a long time in coming. “We at Ozark Guidance are quite ready for this added capacity to serve clients who need more than we can offer in an outpatient setting. We welcome it wholeheartedly.”

Tom O’Neal, a former Northwest Health administrator who brought the parties together on behalf of the Care Foundation, said, “It is extremely gratifying to see this kind of consensus and shared commitment in responding to a community need.”

UAMS Medical Services

Behavioral/Mental Health Services at UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.