Gov. Mike Pence announces plans to build new 159-bed mental health facility on Indianapolis east sid

Gov. Mike Pence announced Wednesday the state’s plan to build a new public mental health facility on Indianapolis east side.

“This new institute will serve as the centerpiece of our ongoing commitment to improve mental health care and address the scourge of addictions in Indiana,” said Gov. Pence. “This new institute is another part of our strong commitment to improving health care in Indiana and to caring for our most vulnerable fellow citizens, including those living in poverty, with disabilities and impaired from psychiatric illnesses, brain diseases and addictions.”

The facility will house 159 beds and has the projected capacity to treat 1,500 patients a year. The facility will be located on the campus of Community East Hospital and operated in partnership with community Health Network.

The announcement comes as Indiana works to improve its mental health care strategy. Officials said the new facility will help deliver expert neuro-diagnostic evaluations and treatment for patients and effectively find the best treatment options for them within the state’s mental health system.

“’Neuro’ is a word that pertains to the brain,” said Dr. John Wernert, “’Diagnostic’ reflects the techniques used in diagnosing illnesses.”

Dr. John Wernert, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), said the focus of the new institute would be on the precise diagnosis and assertive treatment of brain-based disorders, including:

• acute and chronic mental illness
• chronic addictions
• intellectual and developmental disabilities
• traumatic brain injury
• neuro-degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease

“As a practicing psychiatrist, I recognize that advances in brain research and clinical care of mental disorders have made it imperative that we strive to significantly move our public mental health delivery system forward,” said Dr. Wernert in a news release. “FSSA is engaged in an ongoing effort to integrate the state’s mental health facilities and other elements of the public mental health system into a comprehensive, integrated mental health network. This new, cutting-edge neuro-diagnostic treatment center will complement the development of the state-operated facility network and significantly improve the quality of care.”

Construction will begin in April 2016 and will be open to patients in late 2018. The new facility will eventually replace Larue Carter Hospital, which is one of Indiana’s six current mental healthcare facilities.

The announcement comes after IMPD Chief Hite called for more health resources after an armed man believed to be suffering from mental illnesses was shot by officers last week.