Indiana refocuses efforts on mental health needs at new psychiatric hospital

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital will soon begin treating patients on the east side of Indianapolis, in an effort to increase access to mental health services.

State leaders gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of the Neuro-Diagnostic Institute and Advanced Treatment Center, or NDI, which connects to Community Health East along 16th Street.

NDI, which has 159 beds, looks a lot different than the psychiatric hospitals of the past. It will include additional services related to the brain, including a dedicated wing for young people with autism spectrum disorders and areas to treat people with Traumatic Brain Injury and neuro-degenerative illnesses, like Alzheimer's disease.

"There are very few high-rise psychiatric facilities in the country," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jerry Sheward said.

Sheward will run the facility, which focuses largely on high-level psychiatric care for people with severe mental illness, addiction, and trauma. It will serve as the hub for Indiana's six state-run psychiatric facilities and replaces Larue Carter Memorial Hospital, which will phase out operations on Cold Spring Road.

"To give you an idea of the significance of expanding psychiatric services, it has been 53 years since Indiana has done what we’re doing today," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, Secretary of Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration.

Indiana's troubled history with mental health services includes the closing of Central State Hospital in the 1990's, amid allegations of abuse.

Mental Health America's annual 'State of Mental Health in America' report most recently ranked Indiana 42nd in the nation overall when it comes to prevalence of mental illness and access to care. It found nearly one in four Hoosiers reported an unmet need and one in five suffered from a mental health illness.

Mental health counselor Kimble Richardson, who joined fellow mental health professionals at the ribbon cutting Friday, said he believed the hospital would serve as a reminder that work is being done to eliminate stigmas surrounding illness.

"We’re talking about it out in the open and we’re actually celebrating people getting help," Richardson said.

Vice President of Behavioral Health for Community Health Network, George Hurd, told FOX59 his offices would be among those referring patients to NDI. Hurd said there is a waiting list for care already, and the hope is that the new facility, with its state-of-the-art technology, will work to treat patients faster and return them to their homes.

"In the past, people that we’ve had go to the state hospitals would stay in the state hospital for sometimes many months, sometimes years," Hurd said.

Sheward echoed Hurd's comments, saying he believed the 21st century system, which will include upgrades which have become commonplace in hospitals, like electronic record keeping, will serve to get people help in a more comprehensive way.

"We hope to do a better job with getting the right diagnosis and increasing the intensity of the treatment to enhance the recovery and get people back to the community as soon as possible," Sheward said.

For more information about NDI, visit the link here.

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