Lakeland Regional Health and City of Lakeland Team Up To Enhance Behavioral Health Services for Community

Lakeland, Fla. – The City of Lakeland and Lakeland Regional Health are pleased to announce today an unprecedented investment in our community aimed to lift up those with behavioral health needs and help lessen their distress and challenges.

Good behavioral health means a thriving community, but behavioral health problems can impede people’s abilities to realize their potential, cope with stresses, work productively, and make contributions to their communities. The burden of mental illness on a community also can create challenges associated with homelessness, poverty and substance abuse that can cause stress on the community’s health, education and public safety systems. Today’s announcement is a community collaboration between the City of Lakeland and Lakeland Regional Health aimed to alleviate the health and social challenges that are inextricably linked to behavioral health in order to make life better in Lakeland.

“We are so grateful to our City Commissioners, Mayor and city leaders for their unprecedented support of Lakeland Regional Health’s efforts to expand behavioral health services for Lakeland and the surrounding areas.  We are honored for them to be our partners in this extraordinary community investment,” said Elaine C. Thompson, PhD, FACHE, Lakeland Regional Health President and CEO. “Without their dedication to see each resident of our community lead productive, high-quality and healthy lives, we would not be able to focus on this much-needed area of care that will be transformational for patients.”

Following this week’s approval by the Lakeland Planning & Zoning Board, Lakeland Regional Health will begin the process toward construction on a free-standing 96-bed Center for Behavioral Health & Wellness on the Medical Center Campus. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021. This behavioral health hospital for adolescents and adults will allow for expanded care and co-location of inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services for enhanced continuum of care in a safe, welcoming and relaxed environment.

The Center for Behavioral Health & Wellness will focus on several areas of service:

  •  Emergency Stabilization
  •  Adult Inpatient Care
  •  Substance Abuse Disorders
  •  Memory Disorders
  •  Child and Adolescent Inpatient Services
  •  Adult Outpatient Care
  •  Child and Adolescent Outpatient Care
  •  Family Behavioral Health and Wellness
  •  Non-Residential Intensive Behavioral Health Programs

The design will include three one-story buildings designed around the therapeutic and healing properties of natural light and other visual aspects of the patient environment to reduce stress and encourage healing. According to published research, natural daylight and evening darkness drive circadian rhythm responses that influence emotional and mental state. Research also shows that excessive noise is associated with stress for patients and team members. In addition, the facility design includes secure outdoor space for patients and families, which also has been scientifically shown to contribute to better outcomes.

“Behavioral healthcare needs are growing at a dramatic rate,” said Bill Mutz, Mayor, City of Lakeland. “The demand is far greater than just a decade ago. The City of Lakeland and Lakeland Regional Health partnership will provide progressive care and the capacity to meet these critical needs. Both organizations are committed to improving the Quality of Life in Lakeland and across Polk County.”

“Our society has traditionally underinvested in behavioral health resources, so it’s fantastic to see Lakeland Regional Health take a proactive approach to address the need in our community,” said Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin. “Citizens of Lakeland are fortunate to have access to such a strong and dynamic healthcare system, and our city’s partnership with LRH is something we should all be proud of.”

In Polk County, the ratio of the population to mental health providers is 1,400:1. In both the 2011 and 2014 Community Health Assessment, conducted by the Florida Department of Health, Polk Vision, other local not-for-profit hospitals and numerous health agencies, Polk County residents reported mental health issues and substance abuse to be critical health problems and urgent risks to their health and safety. About 25% of Lakeland’s population is affected by mental health issues or substance abuse every year, and many of them end up in the emergency room, on the streets or incarcerated.

Currently, Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center has 68 beds for adult and adolescent behavioral healthcare, including depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and memory disorders, and serves as a Baker Act receiving hospital. In 2018 alone, Lakeland Regional Health cared for more than 5,400 Baker Act cases.

“We desperately need proactive, deliberate and comprehensive behavioral and mental health services for our community,” said Danielle Drummond, MS, FACHE, Lakeland Regional Health Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “With the vital support of the City as well as local social service and health agencies, we are so excited to move forward to tackle one of our area’s most pressing needs.”

Lakeland Regional Health leaders and Peace River Center leaders have worked collaboratively to ensure programs and inpatient care are complementary across the continuum of care that each organization provides to the community.

“Often, those with mental illness feel misunderstood,” said Alice Nuttall, MBA, RN, BA, Lakeland Regional Health Director of Behavioral Health. “We need to embrace and encourage those with mental illness, dementia, post-partum depression, anxiety disorders and addictions to seek nearby help, start talking about their struggles and lead them on a journey toward hope and wellness.”

About Lakeland Regional Health 

Not-for-profit Lakeland Regional Healthreaches beyond its hospital walls to promote wellness, education and discovery in new places and new ways, providing a wide range of inpatient and outpatient healthcare services at its Medical Center, Hollis Cancer Center and ambulatory care locations. Lakeland Regional Health earned Most Wired Advanced and Most Wired status five times since 2013 from the American Hospital Association and has earned workplace awards from Forbes, Gallup and Becker’s Hospital Review. Its 864-bed comprehensive tertiary referral hospital, Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, operates the Jack and Tina Harrell Family Institute for Advanced Cardiovascular Medicine; a Level II Trauma Center; the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children, which includes a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; and the Bannasch Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation Medicine.

About Lakeland

The City of Lakeland was incorporated January 1885 and has grown to become one of the largest inland communities in Florida. With a current population over 100,000, Lakeland continues to grow. It has been designated a Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area by the U.S. Census Bureau for over 30 years. With tourist attractions and Gulf beaches only an hour away, Lakeland continues to capitalize on its ideal central Florida location along the I-4 corridor. The City owns and operates Lakeland Electric, the third largest publicly owned utility in Florida and it was one of the first to offer power in the Sunshine State over 110 years ago.