On Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, city officials broke ground on a new facility expected to assist adults and adolescents in Greensboro who are suffering from mental health crises by allowing them to avoid long emergency room wait times.
This new facility, located at 931 Third St., is the first of its kind in North Carolina and it is expected to open its doors in early 2021. It will provide mental health emergency care and house two in-house crisis centers, including two 16-bed facilities. One facility will be for adults, and one will be for children and adolescents.
The center is 60,000 square feet and will cost roughly $28 million to build. It is one of only a few of its kind in the country and will take a holistic approach to patient care. Guilford County and the state of North Carolina are sharing the $20 million cost of design and construction, and the Sandhills Center for mental health and substance abuse is paying for the $8 million child and adolescent side of the facility.
“You don’t have to go to two or three places to get your healthcare needs met,” said Debbie Cunningham, president of Cone Health Women’s Hospital and Cone Health Behavioral Health Services, to Greensboro News and Record.
Typically, behavioral health centers have focused on mental health treatment, whereas emergency rooms screen patients coming in due to a mental health crisis for other medical issues. This results in patients remaining in the emergency room for several days before their mental health concerns or substance abuse issues even begin to be addressed.
Physicians at this new center will now be equipped to address the mental health crises of patients as well as physical health concerns that may be the result of mental health issues, such as high blood pressure. Patients are able to stay at the facility for three to five days while they receive treatment, and can be transferred to long-term facilities such as Cone Behavioral Health Hospital if additional care is required.
“It’s one-stop shopping,” said Cunningham. “It will definitely have an impact on emergency rooms—around 3,000 to 4,000 patient visits a year will be diverted to this new center.”
Cunningham also added that she hopes that the new facility will help lessen the stigma surrounding mental health obstacles and substance abuse issues.
“[The stigma] makes it very difficult for people to even want to seek care,” said Cunningham.