New mental health hospital proposed for North Columbia

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COLUMBIA — The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission heard arguments tonight on a proposal to build a new mental health facility in North Columbia. Representatives from CenterPointe Behavioral Health System, based in St. Charles, Mo., argued their case for approval on a new hospital project to expand its mental health services in Columbia.

CenterPointe, which has five locations in the St. Louis area, currently has an outpatient clinic in Columbia on Nifong Blvd. The current proposal is for a hospital near International Drive and Missouri Highway 763. The proposed  72 bed facility will serve both adolescent and adult patients in the area. CenterPointe CEO Buddy Turner says the hospital will fill a need within the Mid-Missouri community.

"We think there's a real need, there's an absence of beds for those populations in this area and in this market. We have an outpatient clinic that's here that services a large number of consumers, and after meeting with the community here we determined there was a big need for additional psychiatric in patient beds," Turner said.

The proposed Columbia facility would be similar in layout to the CenterPointe's hospital in St. Charles, Mo. CenterPointe's goal is to create a home-like facility for its patients to help change the stigma around mental health and mental health facilities. 

"What we're hoping to do with the design is to create a place that really starts to break down stigmas of mental health and what a mental health campus looks like. Create a place that's more like a hospital, more like a nice hotel rather than what we all kind of think about back about 50 years ago with regards to mental health," Chief Architect David Brown said. 

Brown said plans for the facility include three different types of therapeutic spaces including a living room, library and areas for group therapy.  Brown also said the facility will include a gym and courtyard for the patients.

According to Turner, CenterPointe is expected to break ground on the new facility in early 2017 with the goal of completing construction by 2018.