New in-patient facility to offer senior psychiatric care

The Tri-Cities isn’t often the second location for any growing chain. But it is for a Salt Lake City-based joint venture that is building psychiatric hospitals for seniors in the West.

Sana Behavioral Health will open a $2.8 million, 16-bed hospital at 7319 W. Hood Place next spring. It will be the second of five Sana senior psychiatric hospitals being built in the West, said Ryan Eggleston, president of Sana Medical Group.

The Kennewick hospital will employ 44, including medical and psychiatric physicians, an administrator, director of nursing and others. The 16,518-square-foot, single-story building is just north of the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in a cluster of medical facilities.

The first Sana Behavioral Hospital opened in April in Prescott, Arizona. A third is planned in Hurricane, Utah, and the fourth and fifth will be built in 2021 in Arizona and Colorado, respectively. The Sana model targets underserved, tertiary markets, meaning rural areas.

A Las Vegas-area edition operates under a different structure.

The Kennewick hospital will be a twin to the newly opened Prescott Sana hospital.

It’s no accident Sana selected the Tri-Cities for its second location. Eggleston said demographics, population size, Medicare data and existing access to psychiatric services contributed to its decision to invest in Kennewick.

And it helps that Eggleston’s sister lives here, so he was already familiar with the area. Business leaders, he added, were very welcoming when he scouted potential locations.

“We are really excited about the community. We think we can be a great enhancement to the health care scene,” he said.

Sana is a joint venture with ERH Healthcare, a hospital developer, and FJ Management Inc., its capital partner. The small facilities serve seniors 55 and older — aging baby boomers — with age-appropriate programming in an in-patient setting.

The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of adults 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder. And demand is rising with the aging population. By 2050, there will be 2 billion people age 60 or over, accounting for 22% of the world’s population.

“Older people face special physical and mental health challenges which need to be recognized,” the global health organization noted.

At Sana, activities, education and therapy are tailored to the challenges faced by seniors. The vibe is homey and comforting, particularly for seniors with mental health challenges.

“They look a lot more welcoming than most psychiatric units would look like,” he said. “Seniors struggling with psychiatric issues don’t have to ask, ‘Where am I?’”

Eggleston said Sana will open with 16 beds because Washington requires a certificate of need from the health department for larger facilities. It expects to expand by eight beds in the future.

Patients are typically referred from emergency rooms that treat medical conditions and then look for places to send psychiatric patients. It also accepts patients from senior care facilities that are not set up to manage psychiatric issues. It accepts patients who also are experiencing dementia and direct referrals.

Its focus is treating psychiatric issues and not dementia. The hospital can treat medical conditions such as diabetes.

Costs are typically borne by Medicare and Medicaid because patients are seniors, but it also accepts commercial payment for patients who are still covered by private insurance.

It won’t take patients under involuntary psychiatric holds until it secures the proper licensing for that.

Eggleston said the typical stay is 10-14 days, the amount of time it takes for a patient to have medication prescribed or adjusted and to stabilize.

Annual revenue for the Kennewick facility is projected to be $6 million.

Chervenell Construction of Kennewick is the general contractor.

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