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New Behavioral Hospital Breaks Ground; Celebrated Virtually

Posted on September 2, 2020

Covenant Health and Acadia Healthcare held a “virtual groundbreaking” on Sept. 2, 2020 announcing the start of construction for East Tennessee Behavioral Health, a new psychiatric inpatient hospital in West Knoxville. The virtual webinar was attended by more than 100 community leaders and elected officials.  Speakers for the event included Covenant Health and Acadia executives, Congressman Tim Burchett, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.    

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Covenant Health CEO Jim VanderSteeg told webinar attendees the new facility will help address the growing unmet need for accessible, high-quality behavioral health services in Knoxville and surrounding counties.

“Research tells us that mental disorders and challenges such as substance abuse, anxiety and depression can have significant effects on a person’s overall health – and helping people achieve optimal health is an essential part of our health system’s mission,” VanderSteeg said.

About the Project

VanderSteeg says the $33.3 million project will continue the legacy of Peninsula, the behavioral services division of Parkwest Medical Center.

East Tennessee Behavioral Health is being built at the corner of Old Weisgarber Road and Dowell Springs Boulevard. The inpatient hospital will include 90 beds, with potential future growth of 40 additional beds. The facility also will have space for therapeutic recreational activities, including a full gymnasium, exercise and yoga space, and areas for art and music therapy.

“This project has moved swiftly,” said Neil Heatherly, chief administrative officer of Parkwest Medical Center and Peninsula. “With an estimated construction duration of 16 months or so, it’s expected to be open and caring for patients as soon as the fourth quarter of 2021.”

Acadia Healthcare Operations Group President Dr. Jeffrey Woods said the hospital will offer a full continuum of care with inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient services. Treatment programs will serve adults and adolescents who struggle with acute symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders.

Meeting a Need

“We want to see every individual not only meet their potential, but exceed beyond what they believe they are capable of,” Dr. Woods said. “Each person who enters East Tennessee Behavioral Health will be treated with dignity and respect. Our environment will be one that is welcoming and provides a refuge.”

John Hollinsworth, Acadia Healthcare executive vice president of operations, said the timing of the project is important. He explained that the current pandemic has forced many people into social isolation, which has been especially difficult for those who struggle with mental illness.

“We believe this crisis will have long lasting and long-ranging consequences for many individuals,” Hollinsworth said. “This virtual groundbreaking is much more than a symbolic gesture. It is a commitment to be a part of the solution, offering mental health treatment options and replacing stigma with hope.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs thanked Covenant Health and Acadia Healthcare their collaboration in the joint venture, noting that the new hospital will enhance the services offered by Peninsula and expand accessibility of care. Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said the project “meets a need that has long been recognized by healthcare providers, elected officials and the community,” and will help many people, including those who currently must drive an hour or more to access mental health services.

Congressman Tim Burchett said, “Mental health issues touch nearly everyone, either through personal experience or knowing someone who is struggling.” He added that effective community resources are essential to helping people receive the treatment they need.

For more information and project updates, visit  EastTennesseeBehavioralHealth.com.

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