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LVHN to add behavioral health hospital

Lehigh Valley Health Network and Universal Health Services announces plans to construct a new 144-bed behavioral health hospital.

The proposed new joint-venture facility will be located on Macada Road in Hanover Township, across from the Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenberg campus.

The partnership combines two leaders in health care: UHS, one of the nation’s leading providers of behavioral health care, and LVHN, long respected for its behavioral health program in our region, to address the growing demand for high-quality behavioral health care services for seniors, adults and adolescents.

Groundbreaking for the new 97,000-square-foot facility will be held in spring 2024 with expected opening in fall 2025.

“The scarcity of mental health resources is a major national issue that is hitting us hard, right here in the Lehigh Valley,” said Brian A. Nester, DO, LVHN president and chief executive officer. “The need for a variety of behavioral health programs and services is far outpacing regional capacity, and those needs are only growing. As the region’s leading health care provider, LVHN has for decades implemented initiatives and worked with others to address this ongoing need, which includes the largest inpatient behavioral health service in the region on the current LVH - Muhlenberg campus. This new facility across the street will nearly triple the number of inpatient beds available to the Lehigh Valley. With the announcement of this new partnership, LVHN is taking a positive step forward on our journey to expand access to care for those suffering with mental and behavioral health issues.”

“We are excited to partner with LVHN on the construction of this new facility that will incorporate the latest innovative evidence-based care elements for maximum patient safety and clinical outcomes,” said Matt Peterson, President, Behavioral Health Division, UHS. “LVHN is an outstanding provider of critically needed services in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding region. Our missions are aligned, and we share a commitment to expand access to compassionate care and treatment for all populations in the region.”

“Whole person health is incomplete without comprehensive mental health services, and it has never been more apparent that this is a service our community wants, needs and relies on,” said Edward Norris, MD, chair of the LVHN Department of Psychiatry.

“Our annual Community Health Needs Assessments consistently reveal that access to leading-edge, convenient and compassionate behavioral health care is a top priority. This project addresses that long-standing need.”

Nester said LVHN provides inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services, including extensive tele-psychiatry programs. Demand for services has increased rapidly in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for inpatient psychiatric capacity for all populations in the region.

“We know that with LVHN, we have a partner equally committed to our mission of behavioral health wellness. Together, we will enable more care for more patients, a core goal we continue to deliver upon with growth nationally as well as right here in Pennsylvania,” said Vic Radina, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, UHS.

UHS is one of the nation’s largest and most respected providers of health care in the nation with more than 300 facilities. UHS behavioral health facilities located in Pennsylvania (Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, Clarion Psychiatric Center, Fairmount Behavioral Health System, Foundations Behavioral Health, Friends Hospital, Horsham Clinic, KeyStone Center, Roxbury Treatment Center, The Meadows Psychiatric Center, and Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, a joint venture with Penn Medicine) provide compassionate mental health care services delivered by staff dedicated to helping patients transform their lives for the better.

LVHN selected UHS as its partner because of its long-standing commitment to patient- and family-centered care, strong clinical outcomes and proven track record of partnering with community-based entities.

The new facility will be operated by the joint venture and will create more than 300 full-time jobs including nurses, clinicians, therapists, technicians and administrative staff.

A rendition of the proposed behavioral health hospital in Hanover Township. It is a joint venture of Lehigh Valley Health Network and Universal Health Services. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO