New mental health hospital to open in Villa Rica

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, March 16, 2009

A new 52-bed behavioral hospital will open in April — the first new facility in Georgia in 20 years.

Willowbrooke at Tanner in Villa Rica will treat adults and children with depression, anxiety, psychosis and other mental disorders, said Tanner Health System spokesman Tony Montcalm.

The $14.5 million, 50,000-square-foot facility, will accept patients beginning April 8. It is about 35 miles west of Atlanta in Carroll County.

“If you can help a patient get the mental health services they need and get their life turned around and they become a productive citizen, what is that return to society? It’s dramatic,” said Loy Howard, CEO and president of Tanner Health System. “The alternative is these patients languish in our emergency rooms not getting better or getting the care they need.”

Willowbrooke will replace an existing smaller 15-bed unit at Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica. That unit is constantly full, causing between 40 and 70 patients to be transferred to other hospitals every month. Hundreds are cared for in outpatient services already.

“There is a tremendous need. Through our three emergency rooms and other emergency rooms in the region there is a huge bottleneck … for behavioral health patients,” said Howard.

Montcalm said this is the first public or private behavioral health facility built in 20 years. The new hospital will take voluntary and involuntary admissions with room for 28 adults, 12 elderly adults and 12 children.

One in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder, Montcalm said.