Construction on a new behavioral health unit at Artesia General Hospital should be complete in early 2023 as the hospital seeks new patients and physicians, a hospital official said.
Data from 2020 released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) indicated 21 percent of Americans experienced mental illness and 5.6 percent experienced serious mental illness.
Deion Wesson, Artesia General Hospital clinic manager, said the three behavioral health specialists see around 400 people a month at locations in Artesia and Carlsbad.
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“In the past couple of years, we’ve seen an uptick in behavioral health services, and I believe that’s going to continue to grow,” he said.
Wesson said the medical providers are working in some cramped spaces right now and more room awaits as workers refurbish nearly 1,700 square feet of space on the hospital’s west side.
“The behavioral health team has been scrunched for some time. They’ve worked in such a tight location for a longtime,” he said.
Jeremy Kern, Artesia General Hospital project manager, said the new behavioral health center would occupy space that was the original emergency room and a dialysis unit.
“We’ve completely shelled out the space and renovated all the down to the studs,” he said. “We have designed several amenities inside the unit to better serve our behavioral units.”
Plans for the new center were unveiled in April as new office spaces for the medical providers, examination rooms and rooms for counseling were presented to the community.
“Behavioral health statewide is needed; the state is very underserved from a behavioral health standpoint. Anything that we can do will help in our region,” Kern said.
Wesson said the new center would elevate services by Artesia General Hospital and is a key recruiting tool for attracting new doctors and other medical specialists.
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“We don’t have any psych practitioners in here. That’s something we want to look forward into getting in here as well,” he said.
“We definitely want to get more providers on site and this facility will kind of show people that we’re here. We’ve got nice equipment (and) we’ve got a nice facility,” Wesson added.
Behavioral health changes come to Carlsbad
Wesson said Artesia General Hospital’s behavioral program moved to a new location at 1410 North Eighth Street earlier this year from the former location on West Pierce Street.
“Our services are the same. Our providers will actually travel on certain days to Carlsbad and back-and-forth here to Artesia so they can see their patients here and there as well,” he said.
Wesson said patients who may not want to travel to the Carlsbad or Artesia location can conduct visits online by telehealth.
A public open house for the new center was scheduled for Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. at Artesia General Hospital at 702 North 13th Street, said Rhonda Jasper, spokesperson.
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Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.