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One year later, we revisit behavioral health hospital helping to increase much-needed access to care

In the U.S., there are 350 patients for every one mental health provider. Ohio is ranked one of the lowest for access to care.
Posted at 4:50 PM, Oct 04, 2023

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — The need for better access to mental health services across the country and here in Northeast Ohio has ballooned in recent years. A survey by Mental Health America found about 21% of U.S. adults are experiencing a mental illness, 55% receive no treatment, and in the U.S., there are 350 patients for every one mental health provider. The survey ranked Ohio 33rd in the nation for access to care.

Those numbers emphasize the importance of facilities like MetroHealth's Cleveland Heights Behavioral Health Hospital. It opened last year, and with dwindling bed space in Northeast Ohio, it was desperately needed.

News 5 was there for the grand opening on Oct. 4, 2022, and we're going back out to that facility to follow through and see how it’s going now, one year later.

We don’t just report the initial story—we follow through to its conclusion. Read and watch our previous reporting on this story below and see more stories that we've followed through on here.

MetroHealth's Cleveland Heights Behavioral Health Hospital treats people who need help for mental illness, substance abuse and more.

The $42 million facility is believed to be the largest investment in behavioral health in Northeast Ohio in three decades. It is mission critical.

Dr. Rajendra Badgaiyan is the new chair of the Department of Psychiatry. MetroHealth appointed Badgaiyan just a couple of months ago.

"The one priority that I had was to, first off, expand our services," said Badgaiyan.

The behavioral health hospital now accepts patients around the clock instead of until 4 p.m. and has tripled available bed space from 20 to 60, he said, with plans to expand to 112 in the next three to four months.
He says the hiring process has been a challenge. It is a challenge nationwide as behavioral health is a rapidly growing industry with high demand.

Badgaiyan said it’s going well, but it takes time.

Also, MetroHealth has a new provider agreement that began in September with University Hospitals that allows their clinicians to provide care at the behavioral health hospital.

"We want to do behavioral health care the right way with high quality," said Derrick Jordan, the new VP of Hospital Operations. He started around the same time as Badgaiyan. They both have the same goal of expanding care and making MetroHealth a leader in behavioral health, he said.

Expanding access is also happening off-site. Metro is collaborating to help open 16 crisis beds at St. Vincent Charity Community Health Center in Cleveland’s central neighborhood.

"When you think about behavioral health care and access, location is significant, you know. Folks being in an area where they need access to care and they can get it is what we’re committed to," said Jordan. "So, we’ll be taking on that project in collaboration with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County."

That is expected to open next fall.

In the meantime, on campus at 10 Severance Circle in Cleveland Heights at the behavioral health hospital, Jordan and Badgaiyan said they have plans to add a transition program that would be a partial hospital and an intensive outpatient program. The goal is to save lives, reduce readmissions, and remove the stigma.

"They don’t see psychiatrists because they think if they have a psychiatric condition, that is something bad," said Badgaiyan. "No. It is not bad. You have a disease just like any other disease, like diabetes or hypertension. So, don’t shy away."

The hospital treats a range of mental health issues, but they said drug addiction is their main focus.

Badgaiyan said they are working on an outreach program to better connect rural areas with behavioral health services and psychiatrists.

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