UNC REX Healthcare to Build Behavioral Health Holding Area in Emergency Department

Anonymous donation will help create safe, healing space for emergency patients

RALEIGH, N.C. February 13, 2017 – UNC REX Healthcare plans to build a new holding area for behavioral health patients who seek treatment in the emergency department, thanks to an anonymous donor who is contributing $2.5 million.

The separate behavioral health zone will include eight private rooms with an open common area, lots of windows to let in daylight and more. It’s designed to improve the care, support and healing of patients, and the safety of all visitors and staff. It will be adjacent to the Emergency Department in space that will be vacated when several areas now used for cardiovascular care move to the new North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital, which is opening in early March.

UNC REX currently sees and holds behavioral health patients in the Emergency Department until they can be transferred to a more appropriate facility for specialized treatment. A hospital ED is often noisy and hectic, and not the best place for anyone dealing with behavioral health issues.

“This generous gift will allow us to expedite construction of a calm, secure and healing environment to hold patients who really belong in a licensed behavioral health facility,” said UNC REX President Steve Burriss. “UNC REX also is a partner with UNC Health Care in providing much-needed behavioral health services and support at the UNC WakeBrook campus in East Raleigh. We are proud to play a small part in helping solve a growing crisis in our community and across the country.”

Construction of the new space at UNC REX’s main Raleigh campus is expected to begin in April and finish by the end of the year. The addition is the first step of repurposing space that will be vacated when the new North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital opens in March. Planning for other uses is underway.

The anonymous donor chose to allocate the money to the behavioral health emergency zone partly because of the increasing volume of patients coming to the UNC REX ED. The hospital’s current ED is a wide open space with curtains across room openings and limited privacy for long stays. The new space will have private rooms with doors, lots of windows to let in daylight, a common area for socialization, private bathrooms and more.

“We commend UNC REX for devoting space and resources to improving the environment for behavioral health patients, who shouldn’t end up in the ED, but too often do,” said Ann Akland with NAMI-Wake County, an advocacy group. “We applaud UNC Health Care’s efforts to enhance behavioral health services in Wake County with this project, the recent expansion at the UNC WakeBrook campus and other initiatives.”

SOURCE: UNC REX Healthcare