New Behavioral Health Hospital Will Address Treatment Shortage

May 2, 2019

Construction starts this month on a new behavioral health hospital going up in a Des Moines suburb. Clive Behavioral Health will be part of the MercyOne system. It will have 100 beds to provide much needed inpatient care as well as outpatient treatment and counseling, crisis response and telehealth services.

Most of the beds will be reserved for children, but more space can be made for adults if needed, according to MercyOne behaviroal health director Dr. Sasha Khosravi.

“If there is an overabundance of adults out there that need a psychiatric bed we can actually turn one of the units from a pediatric unit to an adult unit,” Khosravi said. “That’s why we call it flex units. It will cater to the population based on need.”

A drawing of the plans for Clive Behavioral Health.
Credit Courtesy MercyOne

When the project was approved last year, the Health Facilities Council noted the shortage of psychiatric beds in central Iowa. Mercy reported to the council that national studies recommend 50 beds for every 100,000 people in a community, but only 19 per 100,000 were available in Iowa.

Gov. Kim Reynolds noted that the groundbreaking came the day after she signed a law creating the framework for the first statewide children’s mental health system.

“The facility will be a source of healing and strength, as well as a shining example of how Iowa is making tremendous strides in the area of behavioral and mental health,” Reynolds said.

The $5.1 million hospital will be operated by Universal Health Services, a for-profit health management company based in Pennsylvania that runs more than 250 behavioral health facilities nationwide. UHS will also be the majority owner.

At a community meeting last year, some Clive residents opposed the location of the hospital near a community pool and bike trail. Khosravi said the hospital will be locked and secure, but added that safety concerns are based on a misconception of people with mental illness.

“The majority of mentally ill patients are not violent,” Khosravi said. “For the most part they are just like anyone else except they are vastly underserved and carry a heavy stigma."

The hospital will serve a 43-county area in central Iowa, although most patients are expected to come from the Des Moines metro. It’s expected to be open by summer 2020.