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Signature Psychiatric doubles beds with expansion in Northland

By Elise Reuter – Reporter, Kansas City Business Journal

Signature Psychiatric Hospital will double its presence in the Kansas City area through expansions at North Kansas City Hospital and Liberty Hospital.

The behavioral health provider has operated 24 inpatient beds at North Kansas City Hospital since entering the area market five years ago; the expansion will add 12 beds at that campus and put 36 beds at Liberty hospital.

The expansion will add much-needed inpatient psychiatric beds to the Northland, where patients previously had few options.

“It’s a big expansion. It’s been in the works almost since we opened,” said Lisa St. Aubyn, CEO of Signature Psychiatric Hospital.

St. Aubyn was named as CEO of the hospital in May to help carry the expansion to fruition. She previously was CEO of Research Psychiatric Center, HCA Midwest’s primary behavioral health care provider and one of the area’s largest.

Through Signature’s partnerships with the two municipal hospitals, it will provide support to emergency patients who need behavioral health services. In exchange, Signature is able to buy services from the hospitals, including housekeeping and laboratory work.

Most important, the additional beds will fill a large gap for inpatient behavioral health services in the Northland and the rest of the metro. Currently, most patients admitted to the ER with need for mental health or substance abuse services are transferred across the river in search of a hospital with open beds or, in some cases, as far as Nevada, Mo., or Topeka.

“It’s a big deal throughout the country. It’s not just Kansas City, but it’s starting to reach crisis levels everywhere,” St. Aubyn said. “We’ve had to regroup and decide what makes the most sense for our particular communities. For Liberty, it made sense to have an adult unit. We definitely saw a need for the senior population.”

Signature’s new unit at Liberty Hospital will treat adults and seniors with a number of conditions, including severe depression, severe anxiety, memory loss, confusion and substance abuse. St. Aubyn said the need for mental health services for older adults will be one focus of the Liberty location.

“It’s real, and it’s there, and it’s often underserved,” she said. “It feels really good to be able to offer these services to the Northland; (it’s) particularly under-bedded.”

The health system also plans to expand its outpatient behavioral health services in the Northland for adults, seniors and children. Signature has five area outpatient clinics. Its parent company, CenterPointe Behavioral Health System, is based in St. Charles, Mo.