Feb 18, 2022 - News

Northwest Health expands mental health services

Illustration of a single pillow next to a stack of many pillows.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Northwest Health's newly expanded behavioral health unit opened this month at its Springdale hospital.

Why it matters: We need more inpatient beds for psychiatric patients in NWA.

  • Jose Echavarria, interim CEO at Northwest Health-Springdale, tells Axios the behavioral health unit stayed at or near capacity for the past year and a half or so. The unit gets patients from as far away as Fort Smith and Little Rock.

Details: The hospital added 10,000 square feet and 28 beds to its existing 49, putting the total at 77. The beds are on a renovated floor of the hospital above the existing two floors.

  • The expansion cost $4.5 million.
  • All of Northwest Health's beds are for adults only.
  • The expansion requires an additional 18 full-time staff members, including nurses, social workers and psychiatrists.

Context: Northwest Health is the only hospital in the area that has a behavioral health unit. Springwoods Behavioral Health in Fayetteville has 80 beds, and Vantage Point in Fayetteville has 114 beds, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

  • No psychiatric beds exist in Benton County.

Yes, and: Echavarria says the area was already seeing a need for more mental health services before the pandemic, partly because of NWA's growing population. Mental health problems brought on or worsened by the pandemic only exasperated the issue.

How it works: Behavioral health beds are for patients who voluntarily check themselves in for treatment as well as people put on involuntary holds, such as for suicide attempts.

  • Patients stay seven days on average, Echavarria says.

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