Mercy Medical Center will move a short term, behavioral health treatment center into newly renovated facilities in Des Moines this week. The $12 million project increases the number of inpatient units for people with acute mental health needs.
Mercy Medical director Dr. James Dennert says the new units, which consist of two floors in the hospital’s West building, will be a significant improvement over the aging Franklin Center a few miles away. “We’ll be able to separate patients by severity of illness, so those patients that are more severely ill, acutely psychotic, manic, and intrusive can be kept in one area,” Dennert says.
By moving the units to the hospital’s main campus, officials say they’ll save money by reducing transport costs for mental health patients who require other hospital services. Dr. Sasha Khostravi directs the unit for children and teens. He says, currently, there often aren’t enough psychiatric beds to meet demand. “On a weekly basis I hear a child cannot be placed. They often go to an actual medical floor or intensive care unit until a bed can be identified,” Khostravi says.
Patients stay in behavior health inpatient units for an average of three days, before finding alternate placements. Officials at Mercy said they needed to expand the program’s capacity, because there are few hospital beds available for psychiatric care in the state -if beds are not available, patients often stay in emergency room facilities for extended periods of time.