Courtesy MedStar Harbor Hospital
Courtesy MedStar Harbor Hospital

Baltimore residents suffering from behavioral health issues have a new facility reserved for them in Cherry Hill. Today, MedStar opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art inpatient behavioral health center housed within Harbor Hospital.

The facility is 33,000 square feet and features soft blue tones and open lines of sight, well as security features designed specifically for patients with behavioral health issues.

Debra Schindler, a spokeswoman for MedStar, said the center offers more space for patients and a beautiful view of the harbor that provides a warm, sun-filled setting for those in recovery. Patients there get their own rooms, but also can enjoy open areas for activities and meeting with family members.

The entire place was designed with transparency in mind, with design input from professionals who are familiar with behavioral health patients’ issues and needs, Schindler said.

“We really feel that it was necessary in meeting the needs of the community,” Schindler said. “We have an opioid epidemic in the city. Now we have a safe place for patients to come and work on their recovery. It was completely designed with transparency and respect in mind.”

MedStar opened the facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today. City Health Commissioner Leana Wen, state Sen. Bill Ferguson and MedStar Harbor President Dennis Pullin assisted in the ceremony.

Congratulations @MedStarHealth on the new Harbor Hospital Behavioral Health Center! @DrLeanaWen @BMore_Healthy

— BHS Baltimore (@BHSBaltimore) November 16, 2016

Starting tomorrow, the center will be taking on all of the patients from MedStar Union Memorial’s inpatient facility in Charles Village. While that hospital is consolidating its inpatient behavioral health unit, the outpatient program housed across the street will remain open. Harbor Hospital’s new inpatient center joins one other operated by MedStar at Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore County.

Baltimore has plenty of people to fill those rooms in the new facility. The city is struggling with a deadly addiction problem among its residents, having recorded nearly 400 fatal overdoses in 2015 alone. According to a release from Harbor Hospital, more than 60,000 Baltimoreans suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

As city health commissioner, Wen has outlined behavioral health as one of her key priorities in the “Healthy Baltimore 2020” initiative, outlined in a blueprint this past August.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...