Pine Rest Seeks to Meet Critical Need with New COVID-19 Psychiatric Unit

Pine Rest Seeks to Meet Critical Need with New COVID-19 Psychiatric Unit

Aiming to alleviate the strain on hospital systems

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services is addressing an urgent statewide need by opening a new inpatient and residential psychiatric services unit for individuals with behavioral health concerns who also have COVID-19.

Pine Rest partnered directly with the State of Michigan to address this critical need amid surging hospitalizations and unprecedented demand for mental health services in the state. The behavioral health organization began a rapid effort to renovate existing space on its Cutlerville Campus, located at 300 68th Street Southeast in Grand Rapids, in mid-November 2020 and opened its first eight inpatient beds on the new Special Care Unit on December 21, 2020.

“Our mission is to create a service network for Michigan residents who need behavioral health care – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Allen Jansen, deputy director of the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “After growing evidence that this need could be better met, we reached out to a number of providers and are appreciative that Pine Rest responded to our request. They prioritized space and resources to address this clinical need. This service is urgently needed and will be well-used for a very vulnerable group of our residents.”

Hospitals throughout the State of Michigan have experienced a dramatic rise in demand for services amid surging cases of COVID-19 infection in recent months. The MDHHS stated in December that the state is experiencing “tremendously high numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which threaten hospital and public health capacity.”

Contributing to the strain on capacity within many Michigan hospitals is the significant challenge of finding placement for individuals in need of psychiatric care who have also tested positive for COVID-19, as very few behavioral health providers within the state are equipped to serve this population. Those requiring inpatient psychiatric care often remain in a general hospital setting throughout their treatment due to their active COVID-19 diagnosis.

“Pine Rest has created a unit that makes it possible to effectively care for a patient’s range of health needs,” said Darryl Elmouchi, MD, President, Spectrum Health West Michigan. “This effort is in the best interest of the patients and our health care community. We are proud and grateful to partner with Pine Rest on innovative ways to better serve our community and fight the ongoing threat of the pandemic.”

Pine Rest’s Special Care Unit utilizes a unique design and negative air pressure to create a space well-suited to psychiatric care for individuals who are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19 illness.

The unit consists of four independent, self-contained pods. In addition to the first eight-bed pod opened in December, the organization plans to open its next renovated pod, a ten-bed COVID-positive Adult Foster Care (AFC) space, this month. Construction to renovate the remaining two pods is also underway. When operating at full capacity, the new unit will be able to serve up to 24 general psychiatric patients and 10 Adult Foster Care patients.

“Pine Rest has remained dedicated to our mission of bringing hope and healing to those most in need of care throughout its over-110-year history,” said Mark Eastburg, PhD, Pine Rest president and CEO. “As a leading behavioral health provider, we believe that mission calls us to support Michigan communities during this unprecedented time by offering the services most urgently needed. We hope this new unit will both increase access for individuals seeking behavioral health care and help alleviate the strain on hospitals which are nearing the limit of their capacity due to the pandemic.”

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