Posted on October 23, 2019

In this edition of Full Circle, I’d like to discuss an ongoing need in our community: the need for additional mental health services and resources. This critical situation impacts a growing number of people in our area, and it is a community challenge that requires a community solution.

Peninsula, the behavioral health division of Parkwest Medical Center and a member of Covenant Health, has long been an important provider of behavioral services in our area. Peninsula Hospital offers inpatient services in Blount County, with outpatient centers in Knox, Blount, Loudon and Sevier counties. Additionally, Peninsula provides care for senior adults with co-existing psychiatric and medical conditions at the Senior Behavioral Center at Parkwest Medical Center.

Peninsula offers therapy for individuals and groups, recovery education, and a special program for women facing addiction who do not have insurance. Last year Covenant Health honored Peninsula for initiatives that help clients obtain affordable medications and arrange transportation to treatment locations, which can help patients continue their prescribed care and avoid hospital readmissions. These and other initiatives have helped thousands of people recover from disorders and dependencies to lead healthy, productive lives.

State funding for mental health services is limited. When the state closed Lakeshore Mental Health Institute several years ago, Peninsula Hospital’s inpatient numbers increased by over 10 percent per day, and hospital employees stepped up to meet new challenges in providing services for an expanded number of patients.

Covenant Health operates Peninsula at a financial loss to our system. We are committed to providing excellent care for our patients who need mental health services, understanding that our community’s mental health needs cannot be met by a single organization. We want to work with other organizations to address the needs of patients who are struggling with behavioral health concerns and issues.

You may have seen recent local news stories about Covenant Health’s new partnership with Acadia Healthcare to build a 90-bed psychiatric hospital in West Knoxville. Because of shifts in psychiatric beds at various healthcare facilities in the Knoxville area, the new Acadia facility will result in about 47 additional psychiatric beds for patients who need access to inpatient mental health services. Acadia will also offer outpatient services and community programs, and I’m pleased that Covenant Health is part of this expansion of local behavioral health services.

Community support is also important for mental health services. I invite you to support Peninsula through the annual Artsclamation! fine art sale. Proceeds from this popular event have been used to purchase a van, playground equipment for pediatric patients, and renovations to hospital rooms and treatment areas. The 2019 sale will help renovate the lobby at Peninsula Hospital to include designated areas for patients to talk with admissions staff.

This year’s event is Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rothchild’s Catering and Event Center. Artsclamation! showcases regional artists who work in a variety of media, from painting to sculpture, jewelry making, and fabric art. This year’s featured artists, Mary Saylor and Marge Luttrell, are both from Knoxville. In addition to about 30 professional artists, Artsclamation! includes works by patients and clients of Peninsula, and we are proud of their contributions to this event.

Admission is free and I hope you’ll join us – come and meet our artists, enjoy their inspiring creations, and at the same time, support the important services that Peninsula provides as part of our community’s mental health resources.