Universal Health Services plans $33 million hospital in West Allis

120-bed hospital planned for corner of South 68th Street and West Mitchell Street

A rendering of the new Universal Health Services hospital in West Allis. (Stengel Hill Architecture)

Last updated on June 27th, 2019 at 10:36 am

Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based private behavioral health hospital operator, plans to build a $33 million hospital in West Allis.

UHS has submitted an offer to the city of West Allis Community Development Authority to purchase the site at 1706 S. 68th St., located at the southeast corner of South 68th Street and West Mitchell Street, for the proposed 83,000-square-foot hospital.

UHS conducted a market analysis that indicated there is a shortage of elderly and children and adolescent beds available in a 40 mile radius of West Allis.

“Statewide, the need for behavioral health services has outpaced providers’ ability to meet this demand and we’re pleased to be entering the market at a critical time,” said Diane Henneman, divisional vice president for UHS. “We have a proven track record of patient satisfaction and delivering strong clinical outcomes.”

The 120-bed facility will include five distinct units, including three 24-bed distinct adult units, a dedicated adolescent unit and a specialized older adult unit. Patients will typically be admitted for inpatient care for seven to 12 days and discharged with an after-care plan.

The West Allis plan commission and common council are expected to review the hospital design and construction plans in a series of future public meetings.

The new facility is expected to create between 250 and 300 new jobs, including physicians, nurses, clinicians, mental health technicians and support staff, UHS said.

UHS operates more than 200 behavioral health hospitals nationally and has annual revenues of $10.7 billion.

The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division’s board in September agreed to contract with UHS for beds at the new hospital to provide inpatient care. The county has approved a seven-year contract with five five-year extensions.

When the new hospital opens, the services currently provided at the psychiatric hospital in the county’s Mental Health Complex at 9455 W. Watertown Plank Road in Wauwatosa will shift to the UHS facility. The contract with UHS does not require the provider to retain current BHD employees, but UHS said it plans to hire local talent.

The county’s Behavioral Health Division has been in a multi-year process of moving services off its aging, 900,000-square-foot campus that was built in 1978 to provide acute, long-term and emergency psychiatric care. The county, responding to changes in best practices of mental health services, has shifted to a more community-based system of care that relies less on inpatient admissions and emergency room visits.

The outsourcing of the acute mental health services to UHS paves the way for the county to eventually close the Wauwatosa complex.

Construction on the new hospital is expected to begin this year and the facility is expected to open in 2021.

“The plan submission for this new hospital is a critical step forward in the redesign process of Milwaukee County’s behavioral health system,” said Mike Lappen, Milwaukee County behavioral health division administrator. “The new hospital will be a modern inpatient facility providing a more innovative environment of care designed to support the supervision, treatment and safety of those served.”

The new UHS hospital will not include an emergency department and observation wing, services that are currently provided by BHD at the complex. The county and local private providers are working to develop a psychiatric emergency department, which will be separate from the UHS hospital.

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