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Goal of Sun Behavioral Health in Erlanger is to offer a variety of treatment options in a positive environment

By Hannah Carver
NKyTribune reporter

A bright, positive environment – that’s the goal of SUN Behavioral Health in Erlanger.

Sun Behavioral Health in partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare is a 197-bed psychiatric hospital located on Dolwick Drive in Erlanger (photos by Hannah Carver)

The state-of-the art hospital invited the Northern Kentucky Tribune for a tour of the new facility Thursday, nearly two months after its official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

SUN Kentucky, in partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare, is located on Dolwick Drive, adjacent to Interstate 75. Together, the two groups will work to solve the unmet needs of individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders.

It is the first facility of its kind in the Greater Cincinnati area.

“We’re serving everybody,” SUN Kentucky’s Director of Business Development Evan Gold said.

The 197-bed hospital will house kids, ages 6 to 12; adolescents, ages 13 to 17; adults; and even geriatrics.

“The unique thing about SUN – it’s not a one-size-fits-all program,” Gold said. “We have the ability here, because we’re so large, to have different units with different treatment all going on simultaneously.”

Serving children as young as six years old, SUN Behavioral Health features a courtyard playground that consists of outdoor musical instruments.

A typical stay will last about seven to ten days, Gold said. Each unit has the capability to have 24 beds. Most patients will have a roommate, although, there are a few single rooms.

The units are designed to be very open and consist of group meeting rooms, which have floor-to-ceiling windows.

Also in the facility are a gym, outdoor playground, and kitchen. That cafeteria space is designed with the diverse patient mix in mind and includes four separate eating areas, so different groups can rotate through meals without intermingling.

For security, each unit has a sally port, or controlled entryway, which includes a set of two locked doors. Employees use fobs to access the different areas of the facility.

SUN Behavioral Health practices for the worst with lockdown drills, Gold said. In the event of a real security threat, staff would have the ability to disable the fobs and keep doors closed.

“The protocol is designed to find the patient and make sure they are still contained and safe,” Gold said.

Clockwise from top left: 1.The facility houses eight group meeting rooms, all of which have floor-to-ceiling windows. 2. Each unit has the capability to have 24 beds with most rooms housing two patients. 3. Each unit is designed to be very open with patient rooms and the group meeting room all opening into a central gathering area. 4. The cafeteria consists of four separate eating areas, so different adult, adolescent and child groups can eat at the same time without intermingling.

SUN Kentucky has a wide range of programs to meet the needs of area patients. They’ll work to help children and adolescents deal with poor impulse control, lack of social skills, self-harm, and panic attacks, and they’ll help adults manage depression, insomnia, mood swings, and substance use – just to name a few.

As a 25 percent owner of the facility, St. Elizabeth will maintain a close partnership with SUN Behavioral Health. The two have already worked together for more than four years. Now, more than 100 of the hospital’s employees are already transitioning over to the new facility.

“A chunk of our clinicians will remain St. Elizabeth physicians,” SUN Kentucky CEO Christopher Lockey said. “That helps with continuity because they may see patients on the outpatient side and refer them to us.”

SUN Behavioral Health also has facilities in Houston, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. The group is also planning to open a site in Georgetown, Delaware this summer.

SUN Kentucky is projected to be the largest of their locations. It is set to begin admitting new patients in late April or early May.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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