Lakeland Regional Health Hospital unveils new behavioral health center

LAKELAND – Lakeland Regional Health is poised to announce one of the largest investments in the mental health of Polk County residents.

Lakeland Regional has completed construction of the Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness, its first freestanding mental health facility. It becomes the not-for-profit healthcare provider’s center for outpatient and inpatient mental health services.

Lakeland Regional Health President and CEO Danielle Drummond called the center’s opening the “next big step” for the nonprofit provider and the surrounding areas.

“It speaks to our commitment to caring about the community,” Drummond said. “We know that it goes beyond physical health, it’s about well-being. We want to make sure we offer comprehensive services to care for the whole person, including our behavioral health services.”

Plans for the $46 million facility were publicly unveiled in November 2019, but construction has been delayed due to the COVID pandemic. Work began in August 2020 with a formal groundbreaking, which was postponed to February 2021 due to health security concerns.

There’s no set opening date for the center, Drummond said, because Lakeland Regional Health still needs the site to pass its state inspections. She expects the services to be offered in the coming weeks.

“We anticipate that over 21,000 patients will come through the door of the new facility for all of these services in the first year of operation,” she said.

The Ledger took a tour of the Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Center on Tuesday with Drummond and Alice Nuttall, LRH’s director of behavioral health services, to discuss the unique design and innovative technologies incorporated into the space.

The 80,000-square-foot building is located on the southern edge of Lakeland Regional’s main campus at 1324 Lakeland Hills Boulevard. The space allows for the organization’s existing healthcare services at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center and remote campus to be brought together under one roof.

“This is the real game changer as it allows us to provide comprehensive patient care,” Drummond said.

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Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

psychological innovations

One of the more innovative areas within the center is the Interventional Psychology suite. The pre- and post-procedure area is for patients undergoing intensive therapies, Nuttall said, such as B. Electroconvulsive or transcranial magnetic stimulation. These options are used for people who have tried therapies and medications without success or who are sensitive to medications, Nuttall said.

“One of the nice things is that these services are often provided in the basement somewhere with no windows or light,” she said. “The fact that we have natural light, windows and access to nature is remarkable.”

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New Interventional Psychiatry Suite at the new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

Lakeland Regional Health previously did not have a designated space for these treatments, Drummond said, restricting access for interested patients. Currently, it provides services to 10 to 13 patients on a busy day at the medical center.

“We expect to be able to double that number here from the start,” Drummond said.

Nuttall said the intervention suite will also provide a critical space for healthcare providers to implement cutting-edge psychological therapies with adjacent private treatment rooms.

Increase in stationary capacity

The center will have 96 licensed inpatient beds, an increase of 28 from the 68 beds currently earmarked at the main mental health hospital. Persons who are admitted as inpatients are given their own entrance at the back of the building.

Children and youth department at the new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

Bill & Kathy Pou’s children and youth department will consist of 12 inpatient beds for youth aged 10 to 17 years. The remaining 84 beds are for adults, separated according to the severity and specifics of their diagnoses.

The inpatient rooms are divided equally between private and shared rooms with double occupancy. Nuttall said this is to allow for privacy or to offer community building for support between people who may be struggling with similar circumstances.

“So often we try to build a sense of community,” Nuttall said.

Children and youth department at the new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

The space was designed with a curved nurses’ station, Nuttall said, allowing for a full view down the length of the inpatient corridors at all times. In the inpatient areas there are common areas for eating and receiving visitors, as family members are invited to visit and participate in treatment.

Different units are linked through a core where teams of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and others will have their offices close together but separate from the patients. Nuttall said by bringing these specialists together, it is hoped that vendors can work closely together on a single person’s team.

All units have access to courtyards, enclosed outdoor areas that are segregated by age and unit. Outdoor patient access was a key component of the design.

Lakeland Regional Health President and CEO Danielle Drummond, right, and Alice Nuttall AVP Behavioral Health give a tour of the new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

“Several studies show that people need to walk and be outside,” Nuttall said. “This often helps reduce anxiety about entering a stationary room, as knowing that you can go outside can have a calming effect.”

The designated outdoor children’s play area has frosted windows to maintain privacy.

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Expansion of outpatient services

The center’s front quadrant has dozens of offices and suites dedicated to outpatient mental health services. Lakeland Regional Health offers outpatient care for children as young as 5 years old.

Since the introduction of telehealth services during the pandemic, 60% to 70% of all outpatient mental health services are being conducted virtually, according to Nuttall. She said it gives providers and patients a great deal of flexibility whether to come into the office or sit down for a therapy session in the comfort of their own home.

Technology has been installed in individual treatment rooms to allow providers to better observe and consult with one another, including the installation of two-way glass. Nuttall said patient consent will be mandatory, but she hopes the open atmosphere will help train medical students who are expected to arrive on site next summer.

Alice Nuttall AVP Behavioral Health gives a tour of a therapy room at the new Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness in Lakeland Florida.  Tuesday, August 16, 2022. Lakeland Regional Health has completed construction of its new behavioral health and wellness center on its main campus.  Ernest Peters/ The Ledger

Additional group rooms will allow Lakeland Regional to launch and expand its outpatient offerings, Nuttall said. LRH hopes to gradually create new therapy groups for people who need more intensive care than outpatient care but do not require hospitalization.

“We’ve never had the real estate to offer these types of services,” she said.

The space will allow for customizable approaches, which Nuttall describes as day hospitalization or intensive outpatient therapy.

Nuttall said she hopes to continue to expand and improve the space given some of the latest technological innovations in mental health care have happened over the past 18 months due to COVID.

Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7545. Follow @SaraWalshFl on Twitter.

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