Dayton expected to land new, state-run behavioral health hospital

DeWine calls 200-bed center “major step forward”

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Credit: Avery Kreemer

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine confirmed in an interview with the Dayton Daily News Tuesday that he expects the state to build a new behavioral health hospital in the Dayton area in coming years as a result of the state’s ongoing capital budget discussions.

The Dayton Daily News asked about the facility after finding a $10 million appropriation in the state’s $3.5 billion capital budget for a “Dayton Behavioral Health Hospital.”

In a phone interview Tuesday, DeWine confirmed that the provision would create a brand new, state-run facility in the Dayton area, and that the $10 million would go toward acquiring the land and producing initial designs. It’ll become Ohio’s seventh state-run behavioral health hospital.

DeWine said he made the decision to move forward with the hospital about two months ago. It’s unclear when construction might begin, how long it may take or how much it may cost.

“I don’t know how long this will take, but this is something that we think is an integral part of what we’re trying to do in the state of Ohio,” said DeWine, who has consistently stressed the need for Ohio to bolster its mental health system. “There certainly is a great demand for these beds ... and the logical place to build such a hospital is in the Dayton area.”

This news organization confirmed that the hospital’s primary function will be inpatient care and the site is expected to have about 200 beds. DeWine said an increased capacity for inpatient care was particularly important in order to clear up spaces in private hospitals, particularly as court orders for psychiatric care become more common.

DeWine told this news organization that he expects the Dayton facility to be very similar to the state’s newest psychiatric center opened in central Ohio earlier this year, which cost the state about $140 million over the course of two budget cycles.

“I just think this is one major step forward,” DeWine said. “We have more to do, but I think this should be very good news in the Miami Valley.”

Twin Valley closed 16 years ago

Dayton previously had an inpatient psychiatric hospital called Twin Valley that closed 16 years ago this month. It was known for years as the Dayton State Hospital.

“The closure of Twin Valley Behavioral Health in 2008 had devastating effects on the patients and families served by that facility,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

In June 2008, the state of Ohio, under the administration of then-Gov. Ted Strickland, closed Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare’s Dayton campus, a 110-bed mental health facility located on Wayne Avenue.

Shuttering the aging Twin Valley facility and a second mental hospital in Cambridge in Guernsey County were part of Strickland’s effort to close a projected $733 million budget gap. Closing the hospital was expected to save the state $13 million in 2009.

After Twin Valley closed its doors, the local mental health services board approved just 69 admissions for state hospitalization, which was a decrease of 76% from the year before the facility’s closure, an investigation by this newspaper found.

‘Great news for criminal justice system’

Former Montgomery County sheriff and current state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., told this news organization that the state’s plan is “is great news for our criminal justice system.”

Jails have become the de facto place for mental health and substance abuse treatment. People with mental health disorders are over-represented in the criminal justice system, the Montgomery County Behavioral Task Force found last year.

“The Dayton region has worked tirelessly to fill that gap by adding new levels of treatment in the behavioral health ecosystem, but we struggle with connecting people to the right level of treatment at the right time in their behavioral health journey,” Hackenbracht said about the time since the closure of Twin Valley.

A new, state-owned and operated facility would be a significant asset to the Dayton region, she said.

“We are grateful to the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services leadership for taking the first step to rebuild and reinvest in our community,” Hackenbracht said.

Staff writers Cory Frolik and London Bishop contributed to this story.

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Avery Kreemer can be reached at 614-981-1422, on X, via email, or you can drop him a comment/tip with the survey below.