CLEVELAND, Ohio — When it was clear in recent years that Summa Health’s expanding behavioral health unit had outgrown its home inside the 1920s-era Summa St. Thomas Hospital, the health system faced a choice.
It could downsize the unit, or spread its programs across multiple buildings.
Summa chose instead to support and acknowledge the importance of mental health. It built the $84 million Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion, opening this month and designed exclusively for behavioral health patients with healing and safety in mind.
The new seven-story pavilion allows mental health services to be located near medical care on Summa’s main campus in Akron.
“We’ll be more integrated with everything else that’s happening on the campus,” said Dr. Joseph Varley, chair of the department of psychiatry at Summa. “It’s a sign of the health system’s commitment to treating the whole person. And I’m most proud of that.”
The new 64-bed facility also allows Summa to close the underutilized and aging Summa St. Thomas, he said.
Summa St. Thomas will no longer house health services starting later month, but further details haven’t been released, Varley said. Summa St. Thomas merged with Akron City Hospital in 1989 to create the Summa Health System.
A free ribbon cutting and community open house celebrating the new behavioral health pavilion is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, at 45 Arch Street, Akron. Activities will include tours of the new pavilion, food, raffles and more.
The facility opens to patients on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion adds to Northern Ohio hospitals’ efforts to improve mental health services. Summa serves patients from Summit and surrounding counties.
The pavilion follows the opening of the $42 million, 112-bed MetroHealth Cleveland Heights Behavioral Health Hospital in October. MetroHealth System expects the hospital to treat about 5,000 patients a year for such conditions as bipolar disorder, depression, addiction, mood disorders and dual diagnosis, or having both mental illness and substance abuse.
However, Summa’s new facility won’t solve the overall shortage of psychiatric beds available in Northern Ohio. The shortage was made worse by the closing of psychiatric and other medical services at St. Vincent Charity Hospital last year.
At 64 beds, Summa’s new behavioral health hospital will have slightly fewer beds than Summa St. Thomas, which had 69.
However, the move is creating additional capacity to serve more patients, Varley said. The old hospital had double rooms, but because some patients weren’t feeling well enough for roommates, often five to 10 beds were not available for use at any given time, he said.
The semi-private rooms in Summa St. Thomas’ behavioral health unit will be replaced by all private rooms in the new hospital.
“Because of that factor, it’s actually going to be a net increase in capacity, even though the number of beds will be a little bit less because they’re all single occupancy,” Varley said.
The Juve Family Behavioral Health Pavilion honors Northeast Ohio philanthropists Sharon and Richard Juve and their $10 million gift to Summa. Rick Juve is the chairman of Americhem, a global polymer headquartered in Cuyahoga Falls.
Chapel, History Center are part of new pavilion
The new pavilion was built with behavioral healthcare and healing specifically in mind, Varley said. Hospital floors and private patient rooms provide privacy, safety and security. Specialized services for geriatric patients are among the existing programs transferring to the new building.
“It’s well organized and everything’s planned, instead of having to be retrofitted into a building that wasn’t necessarily designed for behavioral health,” Varley said.
The Trauma Center within the new behavioral health hospital will offer a new treatment option, in which patients use virtual reality to help them navigate and manage their trauma.
“It makes use of that medium to demonstrate different possibilities and ways of reacting to situations,” he said.
Features of the new pavilion include:
* A partial hospitalization program, offering an intensive outpatient program allowing patients to get treatment for up to eight hours a day without being admitted to the hospital.
* A geriatric unit, helping elderly patients with issues related to cognitive decline.
* A Heritage Center, which preserves the story of how Summa and Summa St. Thomas contributed to the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous. Historical items currently housed at Summa St. Thomas will be transferred to the Heritage Center.
* A non-denominational chapel for prayer and reflection, and its adjoining garden. The outdoor space includes the arch façade from the former school of nursing to honor the school’s impact on healthcare and the community.
* A conference center that can host speakers and meetings for Summa employees and community members.
* Outpatient offices for psychiatry and psychology.
In 2021, Summa St. Thomas admitted 3,817 patients, and admitted 3,190 through October 2022. Varley thinks that Summa will treat a similar number of patients in the new hospital.
Julie Washington covers healthcare for cleveland.com. Read previous stories at this link. Also:
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