Prince George’s County, Alsobrooks Unveils Mental Health Care

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Prince George’s County officials celebrated the opening on Tuesday of a new behavioral health facility, a project funded in part by federal and state grants to help address the long-standing scarcity of mental and behavioral health care in the county.

The $7.6 million project, at the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton, includes 22 inpatient beds, as well as outpatient and partial hospital resources. The new facility is expected to begin accepting patients later this month.

“Today is another step in our journey to provide access to the comprehensive health care our residents deserve,” Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) of Prince George’s County County said at a news conference Tuesday. “And today also continues our increased focus on behavioral health care, a need that has long been neglected in this community.”

Home to just under 1 million residents, the county has only two other acute care units for inpatient behavioral health treatment, requiring more than half of adult patients to go to hospitals outside the county in 2019, Alsobrooks said. Behavioral health was identified as a top health priority in a community needs assessment that year, which found that the county had fewer mental health providers per capita than its neighbors. Prince George’s, a predominantly black suburb, also has fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita, according to state data.

Prince George’s Mental Health Facility Is Being Built With Money Shifted From Police Training Building

“Our residents deserve to have their dignity preserved, and they deserve to be treated in an environment that promotes and encourages genuine healing and wellness,” Alsobrooks said. “Today’s grant only brings us closer to that goal.”

The new facility is part of Alsobrooks’ pledge to devote resources to mental health. Last year she forwarded $20 million to build a behavioral health center in Lanham with funds originally earmarked for a new police training facility. That decision was part of the county’s response to: the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May 2020 and came amid nationwide calls for racial and social justice.

The Lanham facility, at the Doctors Community Medical Center, is expected to open outpatient services in July. A clinical ward with 16 beds will open in December.

Alsobrooks, who served as the county’s top prosecutor from 2010 to 2018, said her emphasis on mental health has also been fueled by the staggering number of people entering the criminal justice system requiring behavioral aids. She said 70 percent of the people arrested at Prince George’s are intoxicated when they arrive at the prison and about a third of the inmates taken to the detention center are on psychotropic drugs.

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“We can see the high price communities like ours pay for a lack of access to health care,” Alsobrooks said.

The Clinton facility will be completed in two phases, the first of: which is expected to open to patients this month. It features enhanced security and safety measures for patients and staff, such as electronic alarms, video systems, a dedicated room for administrative hearings and a medication window.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), whose district includes part of Prince George’s, helped secure $925,000 in federal funding for the project. Another $840,000 came from a grant from the Maryland Hospital Association bond project.

“Behavioral health has come to the attention of the American people too late, despite the costs it has incurred on the American people for such a long time,” Hoyer said on Tuesday. news conference. “Behavioral health is so important for the physical, and maybe vice versa.”

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