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New 100-bed Peoria behavioral health hospital wins state regulatory approval

When it comes to nature versus nurture, brain scientists think both matter.
Daniel Horowitz for NPR
Around 1,900 adults were forced to transfer to hospitals outside Central Illinois last year to access behavioral health care due to a lack of bed space closer to home.

Plans for a new regional 100-bed behavioral health hospital in north Peoria have cleared a key regulatory step.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board has approved the Certificate of Need application from OSF HealthCare and US HealthVest to construct the new two-story, 64,000 square foot Meadowview Behavioral Hospital on OSF-owned property along Illinois Route 91.

“We are pleased to move forward with constructing what will be the largest behavioral health hospital south of Chicago and the ninth largest in Illinois,” said Dr. Michael Cruz, Chief Operating Officer, OSF HealthCare in a prepared statement.

The venture is described in the application as an "80/20 partnership" between Peoria-based OSF HealthCare subsidiary Pointcore and US HealthVest, a New York-based behavioral health care company that operates nine hospitals. US HealthVest will be the dominant partner.

Rejected alternatives included establishing a behavioral health unit at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, expanding the unit at OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, or a go-it-alone approach for OSF or US HealthVest that "would not capture the synergies of both systems working together to maximize their individual expertise."

Around 1,900 adults were forced to transfer to hospitals outside Central Illinois last year to access behavioral health care due to a lack of bed space closer to home. That's about 40% of patients. The opening of the new behavioral health hospital in Peoria aims to whittle that statistic down to 10%.

Often, the nearest facilities are in the Chicago metropolitan area, some 140 to 200 miles away from many patients. More than a thousand patients from downstate Illinois traveled to one of the three US HealthVest hospitals in the Chicago area for behavioral health treatment in 2022.

Thirteen hospital mental health units have closed in the past decade, including at the former Galesburg Cottage Hospital and McDonough District Hospital. That's a statewide loss of 252 beds; most of those were outside of the Chicago region. The 200-bed Zeller Mental Health Center in central Peoria was closed by the state more than 20 years ago. Currently, this region has 147 behavioral health beds available for a regional population of nearly 628,000 people.

The new hospital will seek to offer a wide range of inpatient and outpatient care for acute mental illnesses, including specialized programs for military veterans, seniors, women, and a "dual diagnosis" program focusing on those grappling with both mental health and substance abuse challenges.

The 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment ranked mental health as the number one health concern in Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. The Centers for Disease Control highlights 14 Census tracts in Peoria and West Peoria as among the most vulnerable for social and health issues.

The hospital is on an existing CityLink bus route, per the application.

Total costs for the project are pegged at just under $35 million. The facility is currently expected to open sometime in late 2025.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.