May 05, 2023

New, 96

Trinity Health and Universal Health Services are teaming up to open Southridge Behavioral Hospital in Byron Township. The hospital will have 96 beds and is expected to begin treating patients in 2025. (Rendering provided by Trinity Health and Universal Health Services)

KENT COUNTY, MI — Trinity Health and Universal Health Services hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday for a jointly operated 96-bed psychiatric hospital in Byron Township that officials say will help address a "growing need" for behavioral health care services in the region.

Southridge Behavioral Hospital is expected to open in 2025, and will be built next to Trinity Health Medical Center – Bryon Center, 2372 64th St. SW.

The $46 million hospital is expected to employ 170 full- and part-time medical professionals. They will provide medication management, counseling services and more to patients suffering from aliments such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety and grief.

"I think it's great that we have a partnership with UHS to help address this growing need around behavioral health," said Dr. Matt Biersack, president of Trinity Health Grand Rapids. "We’ve seen things escalate during the pandemic, and we know that there's a gap in terms of the number of in-patient psychiatric beds that are available."

The push to build the hospital was announced in March 2021.

The hospital will be jointly operated by Trinity Health and UHS, a Pennsylvania-based for-profit health care company. UHS has over 500 beds in Michigan, and Southridge will be its seventh location in Michigan. Its other facilities in the state include Forest View Hospital in Grand Rapids Township and Havenwyck Hospital in Auburn Hills.

Related: Construction to start this summer on 96-bed psychiatric hospital south of Grand Rapids

Biersack said Trinity wanted to partner with UHS because the company is a "known national leader in the behavioral health" that "really understands this work and this space and can help us be successful at meeting this need."

"We’re joint partners in this venture," he said. "UHS, we’re going to rely on their expertise to help manage this facility. But we’ve been working together around program development and planning for this, and we’ll be jointly governing operations at this facility."

By building the hospital, and adding up to 96 in-patient beds, Trinity and UHS are expanding their capacity to serve patients suffering from a behavioral health crisis, officials said. Too often, patients suffering from such a crisis end up at the emergency room because there's too few in-patient psychiatric beds available.

Often, when that happens, patients wait hours or days for a bed at an in-patient psychiatric hospital because there's a shortage of beds, said Carrie Mull, director of clinical services at Trinity Health Grand Rapids.

"We cannot have people go into the emergency room and say yes this is serious, yes you need to be admitted, but no we don't have any beds," she said. "That's completely unacceptable. We must do better."

Monday's groundbreaking is the second major behavioral health care project underway now by Trinity Health Grand Rapids.

Related: Grand Rapids’ major effort to fundamentally reform behavioral health services becoming a model for others

Last month, the health care organization held a groundbreaking for a 24/7 behavioral health crisis center at Trinity Health Saint Mary's campus at 260 Jefferson Ave. SE in downtown Grand Rapids. The facility is a partnership between Trinity Health and Network180, Kent County's mental health authority.

An exact date on which construction for Southridge would begin was not available. But officials said work is expected to start "this summer."

After it was announced in March 2021, plans to build the hospital faced pushback from a competing behavioral health provider, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

Pine Rest and UHS were competing for a state certificate of need from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to build a new behavioral health hospital. Pine Rest filed an appeal after MDHHS awarded the certificate of need to UHS. However, the appeal was unsuccessful.

Once Southridge is complete, patients will see a warm, welcoming facility furnished with serene décor and inviting finishes, said Shelah Adams, vice president of corporate development at UHS.

The building, she said, will more closely resemble a "hospitality environment rather than an institutional type setting."

"Large windows will provide natural light," she said. "We will have courtyards allowing for fresh air, for movement inside and outside of the hospital to promote healing."

The hospital will provide in-patient and out-patient services, with the average in-patient stay expected to last about one week, Adams said. There will also be a variety of group and individual counseling as well as art and music therapy.

"Our patients will feel valued," she said. "They will feel appreciated, and they will feel deeply cared for."

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