CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The pandemic shined a very bright spotlight on the increasing need for mental health care in Ohio and across the nation. The issue remains a lack of beds and a shortage of caregivers.
MetroHealth is set to open a new 112-bed Behavioral Health Hospital at its Cleveland Heights Medical Center next week. It couldn't happen at a more critical time.
3News Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins was given an exclusive first look inside the new center from Executive Director Bev Lozar earlier this week.
"The original plans for the hospital started in 2019 after a study that showed this region was about 220 beds short of what we needed for behavioral health, so Metro planned this unit to fill about half of that gap," Lozar said. "But now, since then, we've had the closure of other units in the community such as St. Vincent's, and we'll be barely keeping even with the number of beds that the community has."
While University Hospitals is keeping the Richmond Heights Behavioral Health facility open, it's an outpatient facility. In August, UH shut down inpatient and emergency care at both the Richmond Heights and Bedford Medical Centers.
St. Vincent Charity Medical Center announced earlier this month it will also move to only outpatient care in November. St. Vincent is well known for its behavioral health care as well as its Rosary Hall center for those battling substance use disorders, but soon it will no longer offer inpatient detox care.
MetroHealth's center, which was meant to help fill a gap, will now become a primary resource for inpatient care, and some of its rooms will be available for those battling both substance use and mental health disorders.
The state-of-the-art center also offers a new philosophy of care curriculum that follows patients through inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient services so patients can continue to make progress on their journey to well-being. Hospital stays will be shorter — seven to 10 days, on average — while patients are evaluated and stabilized.
"We have one unit for mood disorder patients and one for thought," Lozar said. "The plan to separate them allows us to better plan for programming and activities that are appropriate to that population."
Everything is designed to keep people safe: There are secured entry and exits for both visitors and patients, and he furniture is weighted with sand to make it too heavy to lift. Door handles, TV sets, shower heads, and safety bars are designed to prevent ligature points. Even the screws are specialized so they can't be removed.
Maintenance spaces for electrical and plumbing are self-contained to keep both workers and their tools out of patients' reach. Bathroom doors are artfully designed but also magnetic so they provide privacy but no risk of injury.
It's all subtle safety in a peaceful environment.
"I think the colors are just a very calming, the space is very open, but the photographs and the pictures are basically put on the wall so as not to prevent present anything that could be used to hurt someone, such as a picture frame," Lozar explained.
The floors and spaces are dedicated to patients based on age and need, and can treat adolescents, adults, and seniors at times when they need it most. It also features outdoor recreation spaces, including a basketball court.
MetroHealth integrates behavioral health across the entire system and has partnerships with community organizations to also provide patients with the support services they need during and after care.
The dedication ceremony takes place this coming Tuesday, and patients will begin moving in beginning Saturday, Oct. 8th.
Those with inpatient inquiries should call (216) 778-7800, while all outpatient inquiries should be directed to (216) 778-4428.