New owner seeks to restore and expand inpatient psychiatric care at former Providence Hospital in Holyoke

HOLYOKE – Michael P. Krupa’s to-do list quickly filled with “a thousand things to do,” from license applications and food delivery preparations to hiring new employees after his Health Partners New England of Devens, as well as a Boston-based real estate developer, purchased the Providence Behavioral Health Hospital.

Health Partners New England and GFI Partners of Boston announced on February 17 that they will operate the new entity – MiraVista Behavioral Health Center – as a for-profit mental hospital when they take control in mid-April to the following a $ 4 million deal. Krupa said they plan to continue treatment for substance use disorders in that country, as well as apply for a license to restore and expand inpatient services that had been interrupted at Providence.

Vendor Mercy Medical Center, part of Trinity Health Of New England, ended inpatient psychiatric services at the 74-bed facility in June, citing low admissions and problems with recruiting staff. The closure has exacerbated an already chronic shortage of such beds in the region and added to long wait times in emergency rooms, commonly known as “boarding schools,” for behavioral health patients requiring placement.

It also closed the only such services for children and adolescents in western Massachusetts, which Krupa hopes to reverse, with state approval and the ability to staff, with the opening of ” a 12-bed pediatric unit in the facility by April 30.

“We’ll do this as quickly as possible,” Krupa said of plans that include opening all licensed beds in the fall.

“Ironically, when we announced the purchase, the website of the Mass Partnership for Behavioral Health who records the number of psychiatric beds open (inpatients) each day, showed that there was only one crib statewide, there were two teenage beds statewide and there were only 16 adult beds statewide.

Krupa said that means “less than one percent of Commonwealth beds were open to patients.”

“It’s dramatic and there are days when there are no teenage beds in the Commonwealth,” Krupa said. “It is deeply felt when you have a child, a teenager, sitting in an emergency room, who is in pain and worsening the pain because he cannot get help fast enough for what brought them there. . Everything is necessary, but it is most visible when you have these needs in these families. “

The state has increased the number of inpatient beds, especially for those in need of treatment for substance use disorders, in recent years in the Commonwealth, but mental health issues linked to the pandemic Persistent coronavirus have increased the demand for psychiatric services among people not suffering from such concurrent disorders as well.

The state said that since June, emergency department boarding schools for inpatient psychiatric beds across the Commonwealth have increased 200-400% from the previous year, at a time when infection control measures around pandemic had also contributed to the reduction in the number of these beds.

The state plans to add about 200 inpatient psychiatric beds this year, including about 70 for children and adolescents, following efforts that began in the fall to increase provider funding for this purpose.

Krupa hopes to increase the number of psychiatric beds at MiraVista from 74 to 84.

“We will first ask the Department of Mental Health to issue us a license for these 74 beds,” Krupa said.

“There are also a few rooms that have been converted to something else, so there is at least physical capacity to add 10 more beds to the license. We will work with DMH to see if this is viable and if there is a need and if so we see room for a total of 84 psychiatric patient beds. We are committed to providing the Commonwealth with at least 12 of these beds for teenagers, that is, older children – 12 or 13 years old – through adolescence. “

“Many patients will get help faster with this upload,” Krupa said of MiraVista’s overall plans for opening beds in the coming months.

Krupa expects that, based on current use, existing treatments for substance use disorders will continue with MiraVista.

“Mercy and Trinity continue to operate – until April 21 the day we take over – detoxification, clinical stabilization and Step-down services and opioid treatment services, ”Krupa said. “We have no reason to believe that these services will not continue under our responsibility.”

He added the methadone The maintenance program currently has some 600 outpatients and the 30-bed detox unit is operating at about 90% of its capacity, while the 27-bed reduction unit for patients transitioning to outpatient services is also ” almost fully occupied ‘most nights.

Michael Krupa heads Health Partners New England which, along with GFI Partners, purchased Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke with the intention of reopening inpatient psychiatric services under the name MiraVista Behavioral Health Center.

The Providence Building dates from 1958, although its history dates back to the 19th century when the Sisters of Providence founded what would become the first catholic hospital in western Massachusetts, and its mission over time is tied to the competing factors in the way health care is delivered and hospitals reimbursed.

Krupa said the building would receive the necessary repairs to comply with licensing requirements, and cosmetic renovations would be done throughout the facility with the help of an architect to match what he called more early “fit and finish” in substance use disorder treatment areas and an enterprise information technology upgrade.

He estimated that the costs involved would exceed “the $ 4 million price we paid for the building.”

His purchase included a mutually agreed-upon deferred payment of $ 3 million that is due to be repaid by year-end and that was secured by a mortgage on the property. Krupa said the talks started in the fall and that state financial incentives around the creation of acute inpatient mental health beds, especially for children and adolescents, played a key role in the making of MiraVista.

Other healthcare providers including Baystate Health, which currently has some 98 inpatient psychiatric beds in its system, and Holyoke Medical Center, which has 20, cited the incentives – which can reach $ 150,000 per new bed. when completed, depending on the supplier. and when done – in their expansion plans this spring.

Baystate, which has plans underway for a 150-bed, $ 53 million freestanding mental hospital in Holyoke, has announced that it will open a 12-bed child and adolescent psychiatric unit on its Springfield campus as a “bridge Until this hospital is built and Holyoke Medical Center adds 34 adult psychiatric beds.

Krupa holds a doctorate in developmental and child psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He said he learned early in his career the importance of providing both patient-centered and cost-effective behavioral health care, and his company provided psychiatric management services to a diverse group of clients.

“For health care to work, three parts of the equation are needed: quality services and the need, which I take for granted, happy, engaged and satisfied employees, and the money has to work.” Krupa said.

He added that the facilities “won’t stay there if we provide $ 1,000 of wonderful care and only get paid $ 900.”

“I have seen a number of hospitals fail,” Krupa said. “That doesn’t mean they were bad hospitals, but you have to satisfy that equation that doesn’t blink.”

He said that in his new employee orientations he speaks of a corporate culture where “everyone comes together to provide the greatest care” in an environment where everyone is concerned about safety and costs.

Krupa is founder and CEO of TaraVista Behavioral Health Center, one inpatient with 108 beds hospital for adults and children which opened in 2016 in Devens, and whose annual revenue for patient services before the pandemic was around $ 30 million.

His firm and GFI have reached an agreement with MassMutual in 2017 to buy the company’s conference center in Chicopee and return it to its original use as a mental hospital, but said those plans were put aside when an additional partner could not be found at a time when the state was struggling. a growth in these hospitals.

Krupa said 200 or more employees could be hired eventually for MiraVista which will operate under the umbrella of Krupa and GFI Partners with its own group of investors. Its initial setup “will have the support of TaraVista since we have done it before,” said Krupa, and senior executives, such as a general manager and chief medical officer, hired who “in turn will hire managers and choose the staff.”

“When I first launched TaraVista, we used locum groups,” said Krupa of providers temporarily filling an understaffed hospital.

“We’ll see if we have doctors who are immediately available for MiraVista – a few in the Substance Use Disorders program have indicated that they will stay with us – and we’ll start recruiting now and we’ll probably have to do that.” use of substitutes to start up and recruit staff. over time with permanent people. Staffing in general is the most difficult aspect that awaits us. “

The 151 employees laid off by the Providence sale can apply for jobs at MiraVista, but Krupa said union contracts Mercy had with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and United Auto Workers, Local 2322, would not be honored.

“These are contracts with Mercy, the existing company, they are not contracts with this new entity,” Krupa said. “We have written to each of the current employees with their permission, and there will be a mechanism on the website that we plan to put in place in the days when those who are interested can apply for positions with us.”

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