A former psychiatric hospital that closed with little public explanation nearly two years ago soon could reopen under new ownership if the state agrees to allow Parkridge Health System to take over the former Cumberland Hall facility.
The move would help Parkridge consolidate its psychiatric services, and would result in a net gain of seven psychiatric beds in the area at a cost of $7.7 million, according to the hospital's application filed with the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency.
This is the second attempt by Parkridge to move patients into the empty building after its 2010 closure under then-owner Psychiatric Solutions.
Parkridge officials originally announced the purchase of the building in mid-2010, with plans to change the name of the closed Cumberland Hall facility to Parkridge Valley Adult Services.
At that time, Parkridge, which is owned by Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America, planned to spend $5 million to buy and refurbish the 46,000-square-foot site.
However, several events prevented the sale and left the building empty.
"Significant mold contamination" was discovered at the site in the middle of the 2010 purchasing process, "and it was not safe for habitation," the hospital wrote in its filing with the state.
The parties were unable to reach an agreement to take care of the problem.
To make matters worse, Franklin, Tenn.-based owners Psychiatric Solutions was sold before the sale was completed, and its new owners weren't sure that they wanted to sell the facility, said Alison Counts, a spokeswoman for Parkridge Health System.
"The change in ownership of Cumberland Hall is what caused the delay," she said.
A year and a half later, Parkridge's updated plan isn't much different from the old one. However, it will cost an additional $2.7 million to buy and renovate the 64-bed facility, kill mold and meet new codes than under the 2010 plan.
Darrell Moore, president and CEO of Parkridge Health System, said the purchase will create jobs, though he would not comment on the number of positions. Most, if not all, positions will be filled by current employees, according to the hospital's filing with the state.
"We've done an excellent job of providing behavioral health services to this community, and this will allow us to continue to do that," Moore said.
Under Moore's plan, all adult beds will be moved to the new facility, and all children will remain at the Valley facility. The psychiatric beds at Parkridge's main campus will revert to surgical beds when those patients are moved to the new facility.
The entire sequence of events was initiated by former Cumberland Hall owner Psychiatric Solutions, which in January 2010 gave its 35 patients and 70 employees just two weeks notice before closing the hospital.
Cumberland Hall specialized in patients experiencing depression, acting in defiant ways or who are victims of sexual or physical abuse.
A spokesman for Cumberland Hall at the time said the closure was prompted by "a lack of professional resources in the local community to assure the level of care these patients need and deserve," but officials declined further requests for comment.
Parkridge immediately agreed to take 16 of the children into its Parkridge Valley Hospital, under chief executive Brennan Francois, who had left Cumberland shortly before it closed to serve as CEO at Parkridge Valley.
But by moving more than a dozen new patients into a hospital building designed for 124 beds, space became an issue, said Jim Coleman, chief operating officer at Parkridge Medical Center.
Coleman said that from 2010 onward, the plan had always been to come up with a better way to house the additional children.
"We were really strapped for space over there once we got those 16 additional beds," Coleman said. "When we got the emergency 16 beds a year and a half ago, part of the provision from the state was to come back with a plan to address the capacity issues."
At times, patients were crowded three to a room, according to the hospital's certificate of need filing. The extra space will not only alleviate the crowding, it also will allow officials to separate the adults from the children, Moore said.
While the number of adult beds will decline, the hospital will add beds for children, according to the hospital's filing with the state, Moore said.
"We will keep the current child and adolescent focus at the Valley campus and will relocate 48 adult licensed beds to the Cumberland Hall facility," he said. "It's our belief that this move will create a synergy of adult services by relocating those psychiatric beds onto one campus."
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...