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SoutheastHEALTH opens behavioral health hospital in Cape Girardeau

The new Southeast Behavioral Hospital, located at 639 S. Silver Springs Road in Cape Girardeau, will offer both inpatient and outpatient services.

SoutheastHEALTH’s new mental health hospital in Cape Girardeau held its ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 23, with plans to open in phases this spring.

Southeast Behavioral Hospital, located at 639 S. Silver Springs Road, is a partnership between Southeast-HEALTH and Universal Health Services (UHS). UHS is one of the largest behavioral health providers in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Patients will benefit from the expertise of Universal Health’s clinical team and Southeast’s complete care continuum for residents in the communities we are humbly serving,” SoutheastHEALTH President and CEO Ken Bateman said.

Bateman said they chose UHS as a partner because of its expertise in mental health care. He said SoutheastHEALTH has seen the need for this type of facility, with several patients in crisis who visit their emergency departments because they lack access to behavior health providers.

“At SoutheastHEALTH, we get calls from all over the state from hospitals that are looking to place patients,” Bateman said. “There is truly a bed shortage throughout the state, and we get calls from even other states that are trying to place a patient.”

According to Bateman, one in 10 Missouri adults will experience a mental health illness during his or her lifetime, but 40 percent of those adults will not be able to receive treatment. Children are even more likely to experience mental health issues, with almost 10 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 in Missouri experiencing a depressive episode during the previous year.

“Despite the need for mental health services among a large portion of the population, the average wait time to see a psychiatrist is 10 to 30 days for an adult and up to six months for children and teens,” Bateman said.

The $33 million project will house 102 beds – 60 for adults, 20 for children and 22 for seniors. Outpatient services will also be available at the facility once it is fully operational.

“We are going to open in phases,” Southeast Behavioral Hospital CEO Tim Cockrell said. “We want to make sure that we are doing everything correctly and in a safe manner, so we will be opening just a few beds at a time until we open up an entire unit.”

Cockrell said they are currently hiring more staff members. More than 180 employees will be employed at the facility – including clinician staff, therapists, physiologists, psychiatrists, administrative staff, environmental services staff and dietary professionals.

Gov. Mike Parson attended the ribbon cutting, saying the facility will make a difference in the region. He added that mental health is an issue statewide and, for many years, people have “put mental health on the back burner.

“You need a lot more facilities like this across the state of Missouri, I’ll be honest with you,” Parson said. “This is going to be a perfect model and a way where we can expand it. I’m excited to come back in a couple years when this thing is totally full and operational and see what we are really doing in people’s lives, because at the end of the day that’s what’s really important.”

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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