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New Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital to provide “sanctuary for healing” in Western Massachusetts

Artistic representations for Baystate Behavioral Health Hospital. (Courtesy: Baystate Medical Center)

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) Construction of Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital, a joint venture between Baystate Health and Lifepoint Behavioral Health, is nearing completion in Holyoke.

The state-of-the-art psychiatric facility, designed to meet the unique needs of patients with behavioral health issues, is expected to open its doors Aug. 15, bringing specialty care to western Massachusetts. With a $72 million investment, the new hospital aims to meet the growing demand for inpatient behavioral health care in the region.

The facility will increase adult, child and adolescent patient capacity by 50 percent, housing 150 beds, including 30 dedicated long-term care beds through the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

Dr. Barry Sarvet, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Health, expressed enthusiasm for the project, saying, “Hospital care for patients with behavioral health issues requires a specialized care environment to ensure safety, comfort and privacy for patients and an environment for a full range of therapeutic services to support their recovery.

The hospital was designed to have large spaces for psychotherapy, rooms for art and occupational therapy, a gym for physical activity and access to outdoor spaces.

Patient safety was a primary focus during the planning and construction process. Roy Sasenaraine, CEO of Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital, said, “A benefit of the new construction is that patient safety and privacy have been considered in every aspect of the building, from the patient rooms to the gymnasium. The new building allows us to use modern technology to elevate patient safety in a way that retrofitting an existing unit could not.

One of the notable features of the new facility is the provision of on-site assessments following a supplier referral. This innovative service will allow some patients to be admitted without having to go to the Emergency Department of another hospital. Currently, a significant number of patients with behavioral health problems in the area are being transferred to facilities outside Western Massachusetts due to a shortage of psychiatric beds. The opening of Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital aims to address this issue by providing more patients with the opportunity to receive care close to home.

The transition of behavioral health services from Baystate Wing Hospital, Baystate Noble Hospital, and Baystate Medical Center’s pediatric behavioral health services will begin in August, gradually moving to the new Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital. The freed up spaces will be reused for primary and specialist care or to meet the growing demand for hospital medical services.

Baystate Health is working closely with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to ease the transition process. The affected hospital facilities are expected to be fully relocated by the end of the year, with partial inpatient programs completing the relocation by January 2024.

The opening of Valley Springs Behavioral Health Hospital not only addresses the shortage of inpatient psychiatric services in the community, but also fulfills Baystate Health’s mission to provide quality mental health care. Dr Sarvet highlighted the importance of the partnership with Lifepoint, saying: In developing this new hospital with our Lifepoint partners, we are continuing and strengthening our commitment to addressing the mental health needs of people in our region.

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