Beam ceremony held in Greenville to celebrate behavioral health hospital construction

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – An Eastern Carolina healthcare system is celebrating its future behavioral health hospital.

Tuesday, ECU Health celebrated the beginning of new possibilities in Greenville as a beam for the behavioral health hospital was lifted.

“This is a culmination of about 15 years of planning and strategizing at ECU Health,” ECU Health Behavioral Health System Service Line Administrator Glenn Simpson said.

The beam, covered in signatures from caregivers at ECU Health, was hoisted at 2820 MacGregor Downs Road, where the new hospital will sit.

Mike Brown said that being both an ECU student and a project intern has given him a chance to see another side of why this hospital is so important.

“Being a student you get to see a lot of different angles, different things that students are going through and dealing with and I get to kinda see the nursing side so it’s really cool to see we’re going to have somewhere to help and assist with these issues going on in our community,” Brown said.

Mary Branch-Ellis has been a psychiatric nurse for over 40 years and said this hospital marks an important milestone for behavioral healthcare.

“Way back in 1981, people weren’t as active to actually open up and talk about having a mental health diagnosis and now they are willing to open up and seek services so that is a wonderful thing,” Branch-Ellis said.

The new hospital is a partnership between ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare and will include 144 beds with 24 of those beds specifically for children with behavioral health needs.

These beds will be the first of their kind in ECU Health’s 29-county service area and the only ones specifically for children within 75 miles of Greenville.

“It’s just a great honor to do something for the community as well as the state of North Carolina,” Project Manager Nick Slobozien said.

The hospital will not only serve as a teaching hospital for psychiatry, social work, nursing, and other behavioral health professionals but also offer support for the community.

“We all know that mental health is health and we usually heal better when we have a nice surrounding around us,” Simpson said.

According to Simpson, right now, they have to send patients more than an hour’s drive away to get the care they need and when this hospital is finished, there will be behavioral health care right in our backyard.

The hospital is scheduled to open next summer.