Behavioral Health Center Will Provide Much-Needed Lift To Services In The Region

Behavioral Health Center construction continues at IRMC Main Campus. The 31,000-square-foot facility, which is slated to open in 2024, will be a standalone building located on Hospital Road toward 6th Street, opposite the Human Motion Institute. The Behavioral Health Center will have 44 beds — 24 dedicated to adult patients, 12 for geriatric patients and eight for adolescents.

IRMC currently has a 16-bed geriatric psychiatric unit, so adolescent and adult psychiatric patients seen in the emergency department and who require inpatient psychiatric hospitalization must be sent to other facilities.

“These facilities may not have available beds, and the patients will often have to sit in the emergency department for days to weeks to await an opening,” states Joseph Buzogany, a board-certified general adult and forensic psychiatrist and the director of mental health sciences at IRMC.

“Furthermore, these facilities are at least an hour or more away from Indiana, causing undue hardship on family members who wish to visit the patients. The benefit of having the Behavioral Health Center available to the community is invaluable and far-reaching.”

The new facility will provide a variety of services, including psychotropic medication management, acute crisis stabilization, psychoeducation, psychotherapy, milieu therapy and medical consultation for medical issues.

“There is a tremendous need for these services,” Buzogany says. “Mental illness affects every community and nearly every family, and this project will help realize complete psychiatric care in a localized setting.”

There has been a dramatic increase in mental health cases in the last decade, Buzogany adds. “Mental illness has been increasing in general as a result of multiple sociocultural variables, including social media, mainstream media, school conflicts, the economy and politics,” he says.

The new facility is expected to be staffed by 100 employees, providers and administrators, a substantial increase in manpower from IRMC’s existing behavioral health unit, which typically employs about 25 staff members.

A groundbreaking ceremony attended by multiple members of the community was held in June 2023.

“The Behavioral Health Center will enable IRMC to provide needed mental health care to people in Indiana County and the surrounding region,” says IRMC Chief Growth Officer Mark Richards.

“Since 2020, mental health needs have skyrocketed, while the provider community is suffering the worst personnel crisis in its history,” Richards says. “Training new health care professionals to recognize mental health concerns early, and address them while the most costly and catastrophic results can be prevented, is foundational to the entire project.” The Behavioral Health Center is part of IRMC’s academic commitment to the Mental Health Sciences Department, and medical students and family medicine residents will rotate throughout the facility.

IRMC received a $4.8 million HealthChoices reinvestment plan approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services-Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to assist with the construction costs of the facility.