Lakeland Regional Health Hospital Unveils New Behavioral Health Center
LAKELAND – Lakeland Regional Health is ready to unveil one of the largest investments in Mental Health of Polk County Residents.
Lakeland Regional has completed construction of the Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness, its first free-standing mental health facility. It will become the non-profit healthcare provider’s hub for outpatient and inpatient mental health services.
Danielle Drummond, president and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health, called the official opening of the center “the next big step” for the nonprofit provider and surrounding regions.
“It speaks to our commitment to caring for the community,” Drummond said. “We recognize that it’s more than just physical health, it’s wellness. We want to make sure that we offer comprehensive services to care for the whole person, which includes our behavioral health services. ”
Plans for the $46 million facility were publicly unveiled in November 2019, but construction has been delayed due to the COVID pandemic. Work began in August 2020 with an official inauguration ceremony postponed to February 2021 for health security reasons.
There is no set opening date for the center, Drummond said, because Lakeland Regional Health still needs the site to pass its state inspections. She anticipates that services will begin to be offered in the coming weeks.
“We expect more than 21,000 patients to walk through the doors of the new facility in its first year of operation for all of these services,” she said.
Ledger took a tour of the Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Center on Tuesday with Drummond and Alice Nuttall, director of behavioral health services at LRH, to discuss the unique design and innovative technologies incorporated into the space.
The 80,000 square foot building is on the south end of Lakeland Regional’s main campus at 1324 Lakeland Hills Boulevard. The space allows the organization’s existing healthcare services at Lakeland Regional Medical Center and its outlying campus to be brought together under one roof.
“That’s really the game-changer because it allows us to provide comprehensive patient care,” Drummond said.
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One of the most innovative sections of the center is the interventional psychology suite. The pre- and post-procedure area is for patients undergoing intensive therapies, Nuttall said, such as electroconvulsive or transcranial magnetic stimulation. These options are used for people who have tried therapy and medication without success, or who may be sensitive to medication, Nuttall said.
“One of the nice things is that these services are often offered in the basement, somewhere without windows or lights,” she said. “The fact that we have natural light, windows and access to the outside is remarkable.”
Lakeland Regional Health did not previously have a designated space for these treatments, Drummond said, limiting its accessibility to interested patients. Currently, he services 10-13 patients on a busy day at the medical center.
“We expect to be able to double that number here,” Drummond said.
Nuttall said the interventional suite will also provide essential space for healthcare providers to perform state-of-the-art psychological therapies with adjoining private procedure rooms.
Increase hospitalization capacity
The center will have 96 licensed inpatient beds, an increase of 28 from the 68 beds currently reserved for mental health crises at the main medical center. People admitted for inpatient services will have a private entrance at the rear of the building.
The Bill & Kathy Pou pediatric and adolescent unit will include 12 hospital beds for young people aged 10 to 17. The remaining 84 beds are for adults, separated by severity and the specifics of their diagnoses.
Hospitalization rooms are equally divided between private rooms and double occupancy shared rooms. Nuttall said this is designed to help provide privacy or create a community of support between people who might be struggling with similar circumstances.
“So often we try to create a sense of community,” Nuttall said.
The space was designed with a curved station for nurses, Nuttall said, allowing a full-length view of inpatient hallways at all times. Hospitalization areas have shared common areas for meals and where they can receive visitors, as family members are welcome to visit and participate in treatment.
Different units are connected through a hub, where teams of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and others will have offices close to each other, but separate from patients. Nuttall said that by bringing these specialists together, it is hoped that individual team suppliers can work closely together.
All units will have access to courtyards, enclosed outdoor spaces separated by age and unit. Outdoor access for patients was a key design feature.
“Several studies show that people need to walk and be outdoors,” Nuttall said. “It often helps to reduce the anxiety of coming to an inpatient space, knowing you can go out can have a calming effect.”
The designated outdoor play area for children has frosted windows to maintain privacy.
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Developing outpatient services
The front quadrant of the center has dozens of offices and suites for outpatient mental health services. Lakeland Regional Health provides outpatient care starting at age 5.
Since the launch of telehealth services during the pandemic, Nuttall said 60% to 70% of all outpatient mental health services are delivered virtually. She said it gave providers and patients great flexibility in whether they came into the office or sat down for a therapy session in the comfort of their own home.
Technologies have been installed in individual treatment rooms to make it easier for providers to observe and consult with each other, including the installation of two-way glass. Nuttall said patient consent will be required, but she hopes the open atmosphere will help educate graduate medical students who are expected to arrive there next summer.
Additional group rooms will allow Lakeland Regional to launch and expand its outpatient care offerings, Nuttall said. LRH hopes to gradually start new therapy groups for people who need more intensive treatment than the outpatient service, but who do not need hospitalization.
“We didn’t have the real estate to provide these types of services before,” she said.
The space will allow for customizable approaches that Nuttall called partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient therapy.
Nuttall said she hopes she can continue to add and improve the space because some of the latest technological innovations in mental health care have happened in the past 18 months due to COVID.
Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter @SaraWalshFl.