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Prince George's County Maryland sent this bulletin
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Dear Prince Georgians:
Yesterday, I was joined by Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center (LHDCMC) and members of the Prince George’s County Council to break ground on a new behavioral health services facility that will feature a wide array of behavioral health services to ensure residents dealing with mental health issues and substance use disorders can receive treatment in Prince George’s County.
Prince George’s County has been a behavioral health desert for far too long, and yesterday’s groundbreaking highlighted a need that has gone underserved for far too long. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this lack of access to adequate treatment revealed within our criminal justice system. I saw this play out on a daily basis when I served as State’s Attorney. One third of the people housed at our Department of Corrections suffered from mental health illnesses, and about 70% of those who arrived to the correctional facility each day were intoxicated.
This is the devastating price communities like ours pay for poor access to healthcare, and I believe that treating mentally ill and addicted people in jail is fundamentally wrong. In the wake of incidents involving law enforcement and those suffering from behavioral health issues, I said that our police officers are not equipped to handle individuals suffering a mental health crisis, and they should not be required to do so. In the same vein, those suffering from illness should have the ability to be treated in a facility befitting their dignity and in a setting that is conducive to healing.
That is why last summer, I drafted enabling legislation to shift $20 million from a capital budget, designated to build a public safety training facility, towards the construction of a behavioral health facility. The public safety training facility is still being constructed, but the $20 million will mean that, for now, the Police Department will not receive a new police academy building at that location and will instead continue their training at PGPD headquarters. I sent this legislation to the Prince George’s County Council, who agreed that we could not wait any longer and approved the measure to go on the 2020 November ballot. Voters also agreed and passed the ballot initiative to realign resources in a way that would better serve our community. The $20 million will finance the majority of the renovation of the former rehabilitation facility on the grounds of LHDCMC and transform it into a state-of-the-art behavioral health facility.
I am proud that we have come together as a County to prioritize greater access to services for those struggling with mental health issues and substance use disorders, because we know the need is so great. In 2019, the Prince George’s County Community Health Needs Assessment identified behavioral health as a leading health priority for County residents.
In addition, we have nearly one million residents, but only two acute care units for inpatient behavioral health. As a result, more than half of the 1,900 adult admissions from the County were admitted to hospitals outside of our jurisdiction. We also know that due to the pandemic, the need for behavioral health services has only grown. Our residents should not have to leave their county to seek necessary treatment, and with this new facility, we will ensure that does not continue to happen.
The behavioral health facility will be a two-story, 31,200 square foot center housing a broad continuum of mental health and substance use disorder services. It will also add approximately 100 new jobs at LHDCMC. The team will include psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, behavioral health nurses and therapists.
The first-floor outpatient ambulatory services are expected to open this winter, and LHDCMC has submitted a Certificate of Need to the Maryland Health Care Commission for the second floor 16-bed inpatient behavioral health unit. Overall, planned services at the behavioral health facility include:
First Floor: Ambulatory Services
Second Floor: Inpatient Services
I sincerely want to thank Victoria Bayless, Chief Executive Officer at Luminis Health, LHDCMC President Deneen Richmond, and the County Council for their strong partnership and commitment to removing barriers to behavioral healthcare in Prince George’s County. I also want to thank former Chief Administrative Officer Major Riddick who has been instrumental in this project, our DCAO for Health, Human Services and Education Dr. George Askew, our Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter, and Dr. Billina Shaw from our Health Department, who have all worked so hard to ensure this project moved forward.
Finally, I want to thank Prince Georgians for continuing to advocate for greater access to behavioral healthcare in our County, and for ultimately passing the ballot initiative that allowed us to fund this new facility. When I took office as County Executive, I said that we would place a greater emphasis on behavioral health and social services in our County, and I am proud to say that we are delivering on that promise together.
I look forward to our continued work to improve the health and wellbeing of all our residents as we build a stronger, healthier Prince George’s County.
Yours in Service,
Prince George’s County Executive
(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
The new behavioral health facility will be a critical step toward addressing a long-standing disparity in access to behavioral healthcare in Prince George’s County. The Washington Post covered yesterday’s groundbreaking and wrote a story providing additional details and background on this new facility. Click here to read more.
(Photos by Jackie Hicks)