Via Christi Health has started a $50 million renovation of its St. Joseph campus, 3600 E. Harry.
The renovation will create all private rooms for patients and bring the system’s behavioral health center services at 8901 E. Orme to the hospital. Expanded and improved on-call space for family medicine, surgery and psychiatry residents at the hospital will also be part of the project.
“This is some really good news that is going to change what we do at this campus and help us further expand some of our services,” said Mike Mullins, Via Christi CEO.
“We wanted to send the message to our community that we’re investing significantly in St. Joseph, in their future, and doing the things we need to do to make sure St. Joseph is viable to provide care for the next generation.”
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All of the hospital’s current services will remain available and there will not be a decrease in capacity for patients during construction, said Laurie Labarca, St. Joseph president.
The project will be done in phases, but is expected to be completed by late 2018.
The emergency department at St. Joseph is a hub for mental health screening in the Wichita area, but the renovation will locate all behavioral health services to the campus.
Inpatient senior behavioral health and some outpatient behavioral health services are already at St. Joseph, but other inpatient behavioral health patients and outpatient services are at the center on Orme Street.
With the renovation, the hospital will have 251 beds, including 100 inpatient behavioral health beds on the sixth and seventh floors.
By having inpatient behavioral health at the hospital, Via Christi hopes to improve the physical health of those patients.
“Behavioral health and health cannot be separated,” said Moneeshindra Mittal, a psychiatrist who serves as the medical director for Via Christi’s Behavioral Health.
“We’ve learned that as we focus on behavioral health, we can improve health outcomes in all other areas.”
The hope is to intervene earlier and reduce the need for inpatient stays — despite anticipated growth for behavioral health services — because patients will have better outcomes.
“We want to do everything we can to avoid hospitalization,” Mittal said.
“Treating people in the right place at the right time,” Labarca added.
There are currently 120 full-time employees working in outpatient, inpatient and senior behavioral health at Via Christi.
“At the end of the day, because we’re adding 10 (inpatient behavioral health) beds and expanding outpatient, we anticipate some growth going forward,” Mullins said.
Via Christi is accepting donations in addition to the $50 million provided by the system. It hopes to raise an additional $5 million through fundraising, and has raised about $800,000 so far.
Via Christi is part of Ascension Health, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the largest Catholic health system in the world. It was acquired by Ascension in 2013.