'The opioid crisis in this area is real'

Hank Hayes • Oct 14, 2018 at 8:00 AM

KINGSPORT — A facility built to help battle the opioid crisis is about to open.

Memphis-based Strategic Behavioral Health (SBH) will host a ribbon-cutting Monday to celebrate the grand opening of Creekside Behavioral Health, a 72-bed inpatient hospital serving children, adolescents, adults and seniors struggling with mental health and substance abuse challenges.

An open house will be held from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. at the hospital, located at 1025 Executive Park Blvd. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place from 12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Both events are open to the public. The community can tour the facility, meet the staff and learn about the variety of services that will be provided at the hospital. SBH anticipates taking its first patient the week of Oct. 22.

SBH Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Ginn said the tour can help remove negative perceptions related to mental health treatment.

“There is such stigma when you talk about psychiatric care,” Ginn noted. “People think they know but they don’t really know until you give them the opportunity to see that this is a very normal place. … It’s very calm, relaxing and an opportunity to get better.”

Ginn stressed the facility’s patient level will grow over time in a year, with SBH starting staffing at about 100 people and eventually moving to 225.

“We’ll be treating all ages,” Ginn said. “We will focus on geriatric care, late life depression. … We will treat adults with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and we will have a chemical dependency program where we treat opioid dependency. … Part of my research in coming to this area, we found out rural settings are hit harder by the opioid crisis than urban areas. Part of that is the lack of access to care. … We’re going to continue that treatment post discharge into our intensive outpatient program. … The opioid crisis in this area is real.”

About $20 million is being invested in the building and startup staffing, Ginn pointed out.

“We’re got psychiatrists, M.D.s, internal medicine physicians, nurse practitioners, licensed therapists, nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, mental health technicians or community counselors we train,” Ginn said of the professionals employed at the facility. “We’re going to work with all our community partners. We’ve been well received by Ballad (Health). … The reality is there is so much need. It’s going to take all of us working together.”

Ginn said the facility will be able to accept all insurance providers, including TennCare and Medicare.

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