Governor Beshear announces partnership with UK HealthCare to operate the new Eastern State Hospital

Agreement to improve patient care, blend physical and behavioral health treatments

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear announced today that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and University of Kentucky (UK) HealthCare have signed a letter of intent under which UK will operate and manage the newly constructed Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.

The agreement will not only maintain and improve quality patient care, but will also allow UK to leverage its considerable expertise in research and clinical therapies to modernize treatment options while training the next generation of behavioral health providers.

Gov. Beshear was joined at today’s announcement by UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs for UK HealthCare Dr. Michael Karpf, and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes.

“This new facility represents the continued improvement in the care and treatment of persons with severe and persistent mental illness and demonstrates our commitment to modernizing our behavioral health treatment capacity,” said Gov. Beshear.  “An integrated treatment for both behavioral and physical health provides the best outcomes for patients, and the UK Healthcare system is uniquely suited to blend those treatments for the patients at Eastern State Hospital.”

Other state governments have forged successful partnerships with academic medical centers to operate psychiatric hospitals, including Arkansas and the University of Arkansas; Connecticut and Yale University; and New York and Columbia University.

“Our vision for health care in Kentucky is that no matter where someone wakes up in our state, they can take solace in knowing that regardless of how serious the illness, they can receive the best possible care at the University of Kentucky,” Dr. Capilouto said. “This potential partnership – with Gov. Beshear’s leadership -- is yet more evidence that such a compelling vision for health care in Kentucky is becoming a reality.”

“For too long, the treatment of those with behavioral health conditions have been served separately from our overall health system and this artificial separation of behavioral health from physical healthcare is no longer acceptable,” said CHFS Secretary Haynes. “Through this partnership with UK Healthcare, the state is taking a monumental step in achieving this much-needed integration. The new Eastern State Hospital and this partnership with the UK Healthcare system will truly transform the care Kentucky provides for persons with severe and persistent mental illness.”

Agreement Enhances Care, Promotes Research
Patients served by Eastern State Hospital require coordinated, multidisciplinary treatment teams. As administrator of Eastern State Hospital, UK will bring clinical, research and administrative expertise that will allow this new facility to deliver state of the art care, promote research, advance knowledge and train the workforce of the future.

By signing the Letter of Intent, UK has agreed to a set of outcomes and performance measures including:

  • improvement of patient treatment while hospitalized
  • continuity of care during and post hospitalization; and
  • increasing the number of persons leaving the hospital to return to community living.

As administrator of Eastern State Hospital, UK will leverage their internal clinical and research expertise in psychiatry, psychology, pharmacology, social work, marital and family therapy, public health law and other areas that are key to evidence-based treatments. This collaboration will allow UK to train clinicians and researchers in the most advanced paradigms of evidence-based care and prepare them to practice in the world of integrated behavioral and general medical care. Such integrated care is more cost effective and leads to better outcomes for patients.

The collaboration also provides UK great opportunities for research in diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies of behavioral health issues.

Upon completion of construction, slated for the spring, there will be a 60-90 day transition for staff training, systems testing, licensing and relocation of patients from the current hospital to the new facility. This transition is anticipated to occur this summer.

Bluegrass Regional Mental Health Board has provided significant leadership and expertise in the operations of the current Eastern State Hospital since 1995.  The Cabinet and UK intend for Bluegrass to continue to be an integral part of the new hospital and the behavioral health system. The Cabinet and UK leadership will work with the Bluegrass Board and Dr. David Hanna, Interim CEO, to ensure a seamless transition into the new hospital and to create increased behavioral health community alternatives to hospitalization.

“Bluegrass is fully committed to working with the Cabinet and UK to provide the highest quality of services for our clients,” said Dr. Hanna.

About Eastern State Hospital
Construction is nearing completion on the new Eastern State Hospital, which is scheduled to open this summer. The 239-bed, approximately 300,000 square foot facility will provide a modern setting for inpatient psychiatric treatment,  a new neuro-behavioral unit for specialized services for individuals with acquired brain injuries, a long-term care unit serving individuals with psychiatric disabilities requiring nursing facility level of care, and acute inpatient behavioral health treatment.

In addition to the hospital, the new Eastern State Hospital campus includes three 11,000 square feet personal care homes, each with the capacity to serve 16 people. These personal care homes will offer less restrictive care that promotes each patient’s return to a community setting. The $129 million facility will replace the current pre-Civil War era Eastern State Hospital; the second oldest psychiatric hospital in the country.


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