BWWMH opens adult psychiatric unit

Published 8:19 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital on Monday debuted its major addition with a ribbon cutting with the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce for a new adult psychiatric unit.

“The need for adult pysch beds in the state of Alabama with all the mental health institutions being closed by the state is high,” said BWWMH CEO Arthur Evans. “What they’re doing is asking communities to provide behavioral health beds for their communities. Now we in west Alabama have adult psych beds for the community we serve.”

The addition includes 10 more behavior health beds for a total of 20. BWWMH already had 10 geriatric psych beds.

“It’s beneficial to west Alabama and the seven or eight counties in the area of central Alabama that we serve. We’re glad to have these new beds on hand,” said Evans.

The hospital worked for two years to provide the unit, according to Evans. The hospital needed approval from the Alabama Health Planning and Development Agency and a certificate of need to add the beds.

Not only does adding the unit serve social and medical needs for the community, but having new beds created a new economic opportunity for BWWMH.

“We’re certainly hoping this will be a revenue generator for us and it will benefit us as far as the product lines we offer within our community,” said Evans. “That’s one of the reasons we looked at this so many years ago. With continued funding from the state and federal government, it will be a profitable venture for us.”

Adding the new unit created 16 new jobs including spaces for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, adult technical workers.

Last summer, BWWMH completed a community needs assessment to determine the current need for the unit.

Mental health was listed as a top priority according to Evans and the new adult psych unit helps meet that need.

“We’re meeting the needs of our community as a result of that survey. Until we’re notified of any other needs, right now we going to use our resources to meet those core areas,” he said.

— This article originally appeared in the Feb. 1, 2017 print edition of the Demopolis Times.