May 06, 2023

New $85M psychiatric hospital preparing to open in Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talks about the importance of ensuing Michiganders have access to mental health resources during an open house at Caro Psychiatric Hospital on Monday, June 5, 2023. Also pictured are Jeff Wieferich, MDHHS director of hospital administration, Caro Mayor Karen Snider, and Michelle Lange, DTMB director. (Courtesy photo | MDHHS)

Michigan's new, $85-million psychiatric hospital is preparing to open to patients and staff in the coming weeks.

State officials commemorated completion of the new 100-bed, 130,000 square-foot hospital Monday, June 5, in Caro, which is located in the thumb's Tuscola County.

The new Caro Psychiatric Hospital replaces its predecessor on Chambers Road, which opened in 1914 as the Caro Farm Colony for Epileptics. It served only individuals with seizure disorders until 1997.

"Ensuring Michiganders have access to vital physical and mental health resources are key focuses of my administration," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was in town for the hospital's unveiling. She called the facility an important investment in behavioral health services for both families in need and the Caro community as an employer.

The psychiatric hospital includes four patient neighborhoods that are differentiated by color schemes for the four seasons. Most rooms are single-bed suites with private bathrooms, though there are some double rooms and those setup for geriatric patients.

There's also a downtown-themed area where patients can visit a hair care salon, exercise room, greenhouse, and recreation room, and an outdoor courtyard for recreational space.

Related: New, 96-bed psychiatric hospital to meet ‘growing’ behavioral health need

Other improvements include updated HVAC, building access controls and video surveillance, and modernized spaces for staff to conduct treatment consultations.

As a state, Michigan operates five in-patient psychiatric hospitals that serve almost 650 patients and are accredited by The Joint Commission. Caro's hospital is one of three facilities that only serve adults.

In 2017, legislators approved financing to build a new, $115-million replacement hospital at the Caro location. The plan was a new 200-bed facility to be completed in 2021.

But by 2019, Whitmer halted construction on the project and the state hired an outside consultant over concerns about staffing and accessibility at the Caro Center. The group was tasked with reviewing the project, and found "advantages as well as challenges to Caro as a build site for a new facility."

Residents rallied to keep the facility after the initial construction was halted, noting its importance as an economic-driver in the community.

The state decided to move forward with constructing a new hospital at the location, though it came with half of the beds that were planned in 2017.

Beyond the Caro facility, Michigan is planning to build a new, $325-million psychiatric complex in place of the existing Hawthorn Center on Haggerty Road in Northville. The current in-patient facility opened its doors in 1956 and needs to be replaced due to aging infrastructure, officials said.

The new Northville location is expected to be finished in 2026. During construction, patients and staff from the existing Hawthorn Center will be in a separate unit at the Walter P. Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Westland.

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