Holland Hospital adds beds; Pine Rest, Forest View await shovels

July 6, 2009
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Holland Hospital has added four beds to its remodeled and relocated inpatient behavioral health unit, while additions at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and Forest View Hospital are still awaiting the shovels.

Last fall, the behavioral health unit of Holland Hospital moved 12 beds from the second floor to a sixth-floor unit specially designed for psychiatric services. The hospital received approval in March from the Michigan Department of Community Health's Certificate of Need program to add another four beds under rules covering high occupancy cases, bringing the total to 16, said Sherry Oegema, administrative director for behavior health services.

"We are here to stay and have seen a very positive response to the new unit," Oegema said. "It looks great and also it's a very comfortable, pleasant place to be."

She said hospital has had to turn away people seeking inpatient mental health services because of the lack of beds and expects that will happen less frequently now that the four new beds are available. Some years ago, the hospital housed as many as 20 beds.

Inpatient psychiatric services in West Michigan have undergone several changes over the past year. Adult inpatient units have closed at Allegan General Hospital and Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont. Also last year, Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon ended a management contract with an out-of-town company and hired Pine Rest for the work.

Pine Rest had planned to build a 17,700-square-foot, $4.67 million addition to house 24 more beds for adult inpatient services under a program it operates with Saint Mary's Health Care. Instead, said COO Bob Nykamp, Pine Rest again this fiscal year turned away more than 1,000 adults seeking mental health services.

Pine Rest could not find two new psychiatrists to hire to care for the additional clients, Nykamp said.

"It has nothing to do with financing," Nykamp said, adding that Pine Rest intended to raise the money for construction itself rather than try to crack open the tight credit markets.

"It has more to do with access to psychiatry," he said. "There is just not enough psychiatry within the Pine Rest/Saint Mary's system to handle the patients of 24 new beds. We need additional psychiatrists on staff."

He said Pine Rest is "actively recruiting" psychiatrists from across the U.S. It also is working to establish a local residency program in psychiatry to encourage new doctors in the field to say in West Michigan.

Pine Rest did find room in current space for eight of the new beds, Nykamp added.

He said Pine Rest intends to build the addition, but may need to seek approval from the Certificate of Need Commission to extend the time period.

At Forest View, plans for a 10,908-square-foot, $3.25 million addition for 20 new beds for adult inpatient services are still in place, although work has not yet started, said Director of Community Relations Emily Quinn-Nausadis. 

"We are just still looking at the final pieces of it. We have a corporate review of all the financing, and corporate looks at all the contracts," she said.

The addition would bring Forest View to 58 beds for adults, but would not alter the 22 beds now available for children and adolescents.

Forest View is owned by Universal Health Services Inc., the nation's third-largest hospital management firm. It is a public company based in King of Prussia, Penn.

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