West Allis behavioral health hospital nets city approval

Universal Health Services plans $33 million facility

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The West Allis Common Council approved this week Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services’ plans to build a $33 million behavioral health hospital in West Allis.

The private behavioral health hospital operator plans to build a 83,000-square-foot facility at 1706 S. 68th St., located southeast corner of South 68th Street and West Mitchell Street. The common council voted unanimously to approve the plans Tuesday.

UHS expects to break ground before the end of the year and open the 120-bed facility in 2021.

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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.

“As a native of Milwaukee, with family still living locally, I am particularly proud that UHS was selected as provider of choice and gratified by the recent approvals, enabling us to bring care and healing to a community that has meant so much to me,” said Karen  Johnson, senior vice president of clinical services and behavioral health division compliance officer of UHS. “UHS provides compassionate, outcomes-focused behavioral care that transforms lives. As we continue to increase awareness and change the conversation about mental health and addiction issues, we are committed to our top priority of delivering high-quality specialty care to patients and their families.”

The facility will include five distinct units, including three 24-bed distinct adult units, a dedicated adolescent unit and a specialized older adult unit. It’s expected to employ between 250 and 300, including physicians, nurses, clinicians, mental health technicians and support staff, UHS said.

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

“We look forward to developing local community partnerships, contributing jobs and resources to the local economy, and providing patient and family-centered care to serve the overall health needs of the community,” said Diane Henneman, divisional vice president of UHS.

The hospital plans drew opposition from Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan, whose district includes West Allis, arguing it should instead be located at the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa.

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