New mental health facility breaks ground in Prince George’s Co.

Officials in Prince George’s County, Maryland, broke ground Monday to turn a building on the grounds of Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham into a mental health facility.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said creating a new facility was “a need long gone underserved,” claiming the county has been “a behavior health desert” for years. According to a news release, the county, which has a population of nearly 1 million, has only two acute inpatient psychiatry units.

Too often, police are called when people are going through a mental health crisis, she said, where they end up sitting in jail because there is no other option. Alsobrooks said she “could not wait any longer to do something about the interaction between police and those suffering from mental health and addiction.”

“It is wrong to treat mentally ill people in jail,” Alsobrooks said. “They deserve to be treated in a facility conducive to healing.”

For a solution, she asked the county council to approve moving some money around — diverting $20 million from creating a public safety training facility — to be used toward the construction of the mental health facility. The legislation passed the council, and voters approved moving the funding during the November general election.

The county is partnering with Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center (LHDCMC) to host the new facility on its Lanham campus. It will be a two-story, 31,200 square foot center and add 100 new jobs, including psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, behavioral health nurses and therapists.

“Today is a momentous occasion for Luminis Health as we break ground on this facility — to provide patient-centered care and local access to community members suffering from mental health and substance use disorders,” said Victoria Bayless, CEO of Luminis Health. “We are committed to removing barriers to health care and ensuring everyone has access to the care needed to live a healthy life.”

The project will open in phases. The first will include walk-in/urgent care behavioral health services, an outpatient transitional behavioral health clinic, a substance abuse disorder intensive outpatient treatment program, a mental health partial hospitalization program for adults and adolescents and an eight-bed residential crisis program.

The first phase is scheduled to be completed by this winter.

The hospital has submitted a Certificate of Need to the Maryland Health Care Commission to approve the second phase, which features a 16-bed inpatient psychiatric unit.

“This is a big first step in creating a robust network of care in Prince George’s County,” said County Health Officer Ernest Carter. “We need to make it easier for every Prince Georgian to get health care where they live.”

Sandy Kozel

Sandy Kozel is an anchor at WTOP. She came to WTOP after a long career as an anchor/correspondent with the Associated Press. She also worked in local radio in the Cleveland area — and in Buffalo, where she was an award-winning anchor and reporter with WGR Radio and entertainment reporter at WGRZ-TV.

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