A new hospital is coming to the Central Valley dedicated to behavioral health services.

Valley Children’s Healthcare announced Wednesday morning a partnership with Universal Health Services creating more beds for behavioral health services for both children and adults. VCH officials say the new facility will increase pediatrician behavioral health access by 49%.

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“That is a profound, profound investment and additional capability to take care of our kids, and keep more kids home in the Valley and have better access to behavioral mental health services right here. Not in the Bay Area, (not in) Southern California,” Valley Children’s President and CEO Todd Suntrapak said.

Addressing a Serious Need

“The standard of care will be raised in helping these kids and families that have behavioral health issues.”Valley Children’s president and CEO Todd Suntrapak

During the announcement at Valley Children’s main hospital attended by hundreds of medical staff and local leaders, Suntrapak and others cited the need for more services.

According to The Treatment Advocacy Center recommendations, the goal is to have one behavioral inpatient bed for every 2,000 people. In California, there is one bed for every 5,834 people, and in the 12-county region VCH serves, it is one bed for every 9,792 people, according to the California Hospital Association and

The behavioral health hospital will house 128 beds, with 24 dedicated to pediatric psychiatric care. The facility will employ more than 250 doctors, nurses, and other staff.

Additionally, Suntrapak said the two entities will develop a psychiatric residency program that doesn’t now exist in the Valley.

“Having that residency component will speed the treatment and facilitate the patient getting to the inpatient setting that is on this campus. Not two hours away. Not an hour away. But literally three to four minutes away to get the inpatient care they need,” Suntrapak said. “The standard of care will be raised in helping these kids and families that have behavioral health issues.”

2022 Opening Planned

VCH Board of Trustees chairwoman Jeannie Grech said planning for the facility was five years in the making. The 81,000 square-foot building will be located on VCH’s Madera County campus, on vacant land west of the main hospital.

Construction is expected next to start next year, with a 2022 opening. Suntrapak could not provide an exact cost estimate, but said it would be “tens and tens of millions of dollars.” Valley Children’s will provide the land, while UHS will construct the facility.

Mike Zauner, with UHS (left), and Valley Children’s president and CEO Todd Suntrapak sign a ceremonial contract for a new behavioral health hospital. (GV Wire/David Taub)

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