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LGH kicks off work on new behavioral hospitalParent company announces $1.5B project in Philadelphia

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Officials break ground May 8 on Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, a planned psychiatric facility in Lancaster.
Officials break ground May 8 on Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, a planned psychiatric facility in Lancaster. - (Photo / )

People standing on the 75-acre expanse near Lancaster's Northwest Gateway in 2002 would have seen a field in need of new life, said Lancaster General Health president and CEO Jan Bergen.

The property, near Franklin & Marshall College, at that time housed a Norfolk Southern rail line and an aging Armstrong World Industries flooring plant.

Those old structures have given way to a new wave of community features in the past 15 years, including the nearby Lancaster Family YMCA and the rising silhouette of a new college football stadium.

Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital will be the newest addition come mid 2018.

Lancaster General Health broke ground on the 126-bed, $30 million facility Monday in a ceremony attended by a bevy of government and health care officials. When finished, the project will fulfill specialized mental health needs not currently met locally, including treatment for adolescents and women who have suffered abuse, Bergen said.

The project is a 50/50 partnership between LG Health and Montgomery County-based Universal Health Services, one of the country's largest psychiatric hospital chains. Lancaster County-based Warfel Construction is managing construction.

Lancaster Behavioral Health will go a long way toward filling a need in the community for more mental health resources, said Stacey Youcis, senior vice president of service lines and population health for LG Health.

Given its current capacity, Lancaster General needs to divert patients to other facilities 58 percent of the time, Youcis said. That problem is especially prevalent for adolescent patients, who always have to travel outside the county for treatment.

The health system would need 80 beds just to accommodate the mental health patients it turns away now, Youcis said. By building a 126-bed facility, the hospital is ensuring it has room to grow.

Having specialty mental health services in Lancaster County could go a long way toward keeping families together and ensuring people seek the treatment they need, said Jerri Ann Johnson, a patient advocate and Lancaster County native.

Johnson's three children have all experienced various mental illnesses, she said. One son has bipolar disorder and heart problems, a combination that has sometimes led hospitals to ignore his mental health issues while focusing solely on his heart.

Johnson wonders if a facility like Lancaster Behavioral, which will include a medical psychiatric unit, would have helped her son get the mental health treatment he needed sooner.

The hospital is the first 50/50 partnership UHS has ever pursued, said Debra Osteen, president of UHS's behavioral health division. In other partnerships, UHS has usually been the majority partner.

LG Health's leaders chose UHS to join them on the hospital project in part because the population treated at other UHS facilities most closely matched that of LG Health's patients in terms of factors like illness severity, Youcis said.

Youcis and Osteen acknowledged recent media reports about alleged staffing and billing issues at various UHS facilities across the country. UHS has denied the allegations.

The board of the new behavioral hospital will include a 50/50 split of representatives from UHS and LG Health, with LG Health having full access to all aspects of operation, Youcis said.

Officials expect the hospital to open around June 2018. Staffing will come from a combination of outside hiring and existing UHS and LG Health personnel. 

Penn Medicine launches major project in Philadelphia

As LG Health breaks ground on its behavioral health hospital, its parent, Penn Medicine, is gearing up for its largest capital project to date: a $1.5 billion hospital in West Philadelphia.

The project, dubbed The Pavilion, will be Philadelphia's first new hospital in more than a decade, according to a news release from Penn Medicine. The 17-story, 1.5 million-square-foot facility will be the length of two football fields and have as much interior space as three Philadelphia Art Museums.

The behemoth of a building will house 500 private patient rooms, 47 operating rooms and a range of functions meant to "future-proof" the facility, which Penn Medicine intends to be its flagship hospital.

Officials expect to complete The Pavilion in 2021.

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Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz

Jennifer Wentz covers Lancaster County, York County, financial services, taxation and legal services. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at jwentz@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @jenni_wentz.

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