SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Health has opened a temporary 12-bed child/adolescent psychiatric unit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield on Wednesday.

According to a news release sent to 22News, Baystate Health has been collaborating with the Department of Mental Health on how to meet the behavioral health needs of the younger population. There has been a decrease in available pediatric behavioral health beds in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this has caused many children to wait days and weeks in the emergency room and on pediatric medical units.

The psychiatric unit opened at Baystate Medical Center on Wednesday, April 28. The $55 million, 150-bed facility will address the shortage of inpatient behavioral health beds in the region for adults, including geriatrics, as well as adolescents, and children.

“This new unit serves as a bridge allowing us to provide inpatient psychiatric care for children and adolescents over the next two years until our new Baystate-Kindred Healthcare joint venture behavioral health hospital opens with a permanent pediatric/adolescent unit. The rapid development of a new psychiatric unit for children in the hospital is a very complex project and we’re quite proud of the extraordinary efforts of all involved,” said Dr. Barry Sarvet, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Health.

Sarvet also said that the unit will be owned and operated by Baystate Health but Kindred Behavioral Health Services will be assisting by managing day-to-day operations and staffing the unit with nurses and mental health counselors. Child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners from the Baystate Health department of psychiatry will oversee the treatment of each patient on the unit.

The new unit was made possible by support from the Western MA legislative delegation through funding in the FY21 state budget.

Baystate Health and Kindred Behavioral Health Services’ joint venture to create a behavioral health hospital has also received help from the Holyoke City Council to purchase land on Lower Westfield Road in Holyoke for the construction of the proposed hospital.