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Geisinger Boosting Access to Inpatient Behavioral Health Services

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   November 15, 2021

In a joint venture, Geisinger is building two 96-bed inpatient behavioral health facilities.

Geisinger has entered a joint venture to build two behavioral health facilities and boost access to rural behavioral health services.

Providing adequate patient access is one of the primary challenges for behavioral health programs at health systems across the country. The challenge is particularly acute in rural areas such as those served by Geisinger in Pennsylvania. About 60% of rural Americans live in mental health professional shortage areas.

"Access to high-quality behavioral health services is a national issue. It is a challenge that is even greater here in rural America, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those challenges," says M. Justin Coffey, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Geisinger.

Geisinger is facing high demand for behavioral health services, he says. "The good news is that safe and effective treatment exists. The challenge is that access to that treatment can be difficult. It certainly is not easy. Today, at Geisinger, we have 16,000 referrals to our behavioral health department. We are doing everything we can to manage that demand to take care of the incredible need that is in our communities."

To address access to inpatient behavioral health services, Geisinger has entered a joint venture with Acadia Healthcare to build two 96-bed inpatient behavioral health facilities in Moosic and Danville, Pennsylvania. Together, Geisinger and Acadia will be investing about $80 million into the new facilities, Coffey says. Geisinger will be a minority owner in the joint venture.

Meeting demand for care

The new facilities will address demand for inpatient care at Geisinger, he says. "Each of these facilities is going to serve adult and pediatric patients. Upon completion, the two facilities will address both the current and what we project will be future demand for both adult and adolescent patients who struggle with all kinds of psychiatric conditions."

The new facilities will offer a broad range of services, Coffey says.

"We will provide acute psychiatric care for adult and pediatric patients, especially those struggling with acute symptoms of psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain forms of substance use disorder. In addition, these facilities will offer transitional levels of care. For example, they will offer partial hospital programs and intensive outpatient programs. These are outpatient levels of care, where patients step up to them from outpatient services or step down to them from hospital-based services," he says.

The new facilities will also offer contemporary modalities of brain stimulation therapy, Coffey says. These are nonpharmacologic interventions such as electroconvulsive therapy that can treat some of the most severe forms of psychiatric illness.

The goal of the joint venture is to focus on the acute care side of the care continuum, he says. "In this region, we know that our communities are 'under-bedded' from an inpatient psychiatry perspective both in central Pennsylvania and northeast Pennsylvania. Through this joint venture, we will be constructing and operating two freestanding, state-of-the-art behavioral health facilities. These facilities are going to bring accessible, high-quality inpatient behavioral health services to our communities."

The Moosic facility is expected to open in the fall of 2022, and the Danville facility is expected to open in 2023.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


Geisinger and Acadia Health are investing about $80 million to build two inpatient behavioral health facilities.

The new facilities will provide acute psychiatric care for adult and pediatric patients for conditions including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

The new facilities are expected to meet current and future demand for inpatient behavioral health services at Geisinger.

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