April 18, 2024

A new mental health facility opens in Athna Cloch in August

A new behavioral health facility, built to serve everyone from children to geriatric patients, opens this August off Sweeten Creek Road between Asheville’s Oakley and Shiloh neighborhoods.

Sweeten Creek Mental Health & Wellness Center is owned and operated by Mission Health (a subsidiary of HCA Health Care) and will replace Copestone’s behavioral health services unit currently operating on the St. Josephs Mission on Biltmore Avenue near downtown Asheville.

The new space is part of the deal made by HCA Healthcare in 2019 when it acquired Mission Hospital. As promised, HCA built the facilitywithin five years of makingpurchase and obtain the permits.

At the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 18, Mission Health Psychiatry’s Medical Director, Dr. Ed Kelley, about the difference this new facility will make for patients.

“The community’s need has just grown and grown over the years,” he said. “The emergency rooms are now full and patients are waiting in beds. So this is really helping with that decompression that is needed and helping more people because it’s just a desperate problem right now.”

The 84,000 square foot facility cost $62 million to build. It offers 120 beds – an increase of 38 beds from the Copestone site. Both inpatient and outpatient acute care will be available with separate secure units for each age group: adolescents, young adults, adults and geriatrics. Each age group will also have their own private outdoor yard, as well as a “psych-safe playground” for the kids, a basketball court for the adults, and an outdoor walking track for the geriatric space.

“You’ll notice this isn’t called a hospital,” Kelley said. “It’s called a health and wellness center because it’s not just a hospital. We’re really going to look at people and teach them how to be healthy, how to heal, how to take care of themselves.”

The center also makes room for more holistic mental health support. Pet therapy – featuring a labradoodle named Jasper – will take place five times a week in the children’s and adolescent units, a volunteer program that will soon expand to the geriatrics and adult units.

Poetry and collages adorn the walls of the art and music therapy room. Recreational therapists will lead regular wellness activities such as yoga, mindfulness practices, basketball and volleyball. Raised garden beds will allow for outdoor activities.

Floor-length murals of the Appalachian mountains and other nature scenes line some parts of the center’s gray halls. There is a lot of natural light in the beds and many of the halls. There is also a large cafeteria with an on-site chef, as well as a pharmacy.

To be admitted to the center, patients in need of mental health care must first undergo a medical screening by an emergency physician to confirm they are medically stable, Kelley said.

“We don’t have our own medical facilities for complex care here, so we have to make sure someone is stable enough to come here. And the emergency room is where they would get that medical clearance.”

Although the average length of stay will vary by unit, Kelley expects most patients to stay about a week.

“The concept is that we don’t want to warehouse people anymore. We don’t want them stuck here,” he said. We want to help them get through their crisis, stabilize, and then get support in the community so they can thrive in their home environment rather than being stuck in a hospital.”

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