A new behavioral health wing at Artesia General Hospital should lead to expanded services in Eddy County, hospital officials said.
The larger behavioral health area and a new CT scanner for the hospital were unveiled Tuesday evening during a town hall meeting and public tour.
Artesia General Hospital (AGH) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Joe Salgado said both projects had been in the planning and construction phase for nearly one year.
Jeremy Kern, AGH project manager, said the behavioral health area contained specialized features, like its own heating and air conditioning unit and extra sound barriers so patients would not be distracted during sessions.
AGH estimated around 400 people a month from Carlsbad and Artesia seek treatment for behavioral health services.
One in people in the U.S. were affected by a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Carlos Olivas, a behavioral health medical provider, said the new wing provided privacy and allowed AGH to offer services previously unavailable.
He said providers like him could see people in the office or remotely. Olivas said the telehealth visits were a benefit to patients in the Carlsbad and Artesia areas.
“Telehealth visits are very useful for convenience and continuity of care,” Olivas said. A lot of patients can’t make it to the clinic, so they were missing their appointments and sometimes they just don’t reschedule to come back in.”
He said telehealth expedited care and allowed healthcare providers to visit with more patients in one day.
Olivas said the new center gives people more opportunities to seek behavioral care.
“I think behavioral health has always had a certain degree of stigma with it. Seeking out care is difficult for a lot of people,” he said.
Salgado said AGH sought to hire extra behavioral health staff for the new facility.
Hospital officials did not have an estimated or final cost for both projects. Salgado said preparations for additional work at the hospital are in the planning stages.
He said the new behavioral health center and CT scanner would be used as a blueprint to help AGH move forward on future growth.
“We’re moving from number driven to try and change the culture here,” Salgado said.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Artesia General Hospital shows off new behavioral health center