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Norman Regional breaks ground on mental health facility

Norman Transcript - 6/1/2023

Jun. 1—Hospital administrators and medical providers along with city and state officials gathered Wednesday on the corner of North Porter Avenue and Rich Street to break ground on a new behavioral health center set to open in 2024.

Norman Regional Health System is partnering with Oceans Healthcare, a Plano, Texas-based regional inpatient and outpatient treatment provider, to expand its behavioral health services by adding The Behavioral Health Center at Porter Health Village, a 36,064-square-foot, 48-bed facility.

The new center will provide recreational and group therapy, an intensive outpatient program, and substance use disorder treatment, and half of the beds will be allocated for geriatric patients, officials said.

"This new behavioral health center was planned long before the COVID pandemic began," said Richie Splitt, president and chief executive of Norman Regional. "Unfortunately, COVID has unmistakably revealed the tremendous need for more accessible mental health services across our state and our country."

Currently, the Norman Regional Hospital-Porter Campus has a 20-bed behavioral health unit that will be repurposed once the new facility is completed, according to Melissa Herron, Norman Regional spokesperson.

"It will completely move over to the new center," Herron said.

Dr. Farhan Jawed, medical director of Norman Regional's Behavioral Medicine Services, said without addressing mental health, which is at a crisis level, it is impossible to adequately treat patients.

'Crisis level'

"Without providing adequate mental health services, you cannot provide complete medical care," he said. "It is essential for us to treat mental health as we treat the rest of our medical care services."

Oceans Healthcare has more than 30 locations throughout Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to its website. Stuart Archer, the healthcare provider's chief executive, expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to expand into Oklahoma

"We're seeing the need for behavioral health care services grow," he said. "Mental health challenges are at an all-time high, and few communities have the resources they need to meet this demand. And too often it is the most vulnerable among us that suffer."

Carrie Slatton-Hodges, commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said she would like to work with Oceans Healthcare to expand its presence around the state.

"I hope this is the first of many partnerships that we have around the state with Oceans because they truly care about this work and they have a tremendous amount of integrity in what they do," she said.

Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila said this new facility will address behavioral health challenges within the city and surrounding communities.

"We desperately need the practitioners that are going to bring us this kind of behavioral health center at this campus," he said. "This center allows us as residents to receive the mental health care that we need and to be able to do it so close to home."


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