SPRINGFIELD — Baystate Health has selected Kindred Behavioral Health as its partner in a long-sought standalone behavioral health hospital project that was put on pause last year.
The plan is to build a $43-million, 120-bed behavioral health hospital from the ground up, opening two years from the start of construction. The new hospital would employ 220 people, Baystate president and CEO Dr. Mark A. Keroack said.
“It’s upsetting that we don’t have more to offer for people with these problems. I think mental health has always been the poor stepchild in a traditional health environment,” he said. “The rate of compensation is low. (Practitioners) pay a financial penalty to get into this area.”
Baystate’s capital contribution to that $43 million is up to $5 million, Keroack said.
The new hospital will have a pediatric unit to provide care for children and adolescents. Western Massachusetts has no pediatric inpatient behavioral health hospital beds.
Kindred Behavioral Health is a year-old division of the larger Kindred Healthcare, which reported revenues of about $3.2 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2020. For 2019 it reported revenues of $3.2 billion.
The project goes before state regulators starting next month. Completion is expected in the fall of 2022.
Kindred Behavioral Health has the WellBridge Greater Dallas and WellBridge Fort Worth behavioral health hospitals in Texas. Each hospital has 48 licensed beds.
It manages, according to the company, Riverside Medical Center’s 64-bed behavioral health unit in Kankakee, Illinois, and a 31-bed behavioral health unit within Kindred Hospital Chicago North, also in Illinois.
Kindred is investing to build the Western Massachusetts facility, and a joint venture between Kindred and Baystate will operate it. The staff — doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants — will be contracted to work at the facility. Baystate is also participating in the design process.
“It’s a really exciting process,” said Dr. Barry Sarvet, who chairs Baystate Health’s department of psychiatry. “There are not that many opportunities to be involved in the development (and) the design of a brand-new psychiatric facility with a new model of care.”
Sarvet said the need for psychiatric services will increase in a world continuing to deal with the coronavirus.
“Here at Baystate we’ve had a strong commitment to behavioral health for many years,” he said. “We believe the mind and body are connected.”
“We really want psychiatry to be connected to the health care system,” he said.
The former Holyoke Geriatric Authority site is Baystate’s primary target for a location. The new partnership has not yet purchased the property from the city, Keroack said. If the site is chosen, the existing Geriatric Authority buildings would be demolished.
Marcos A. Marrero, Holyoke’s director of planning and development, said in an email that the city is reviewing a proposal for the site and is doing its…