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CHA is a Harvard Teaching Hospital and a national leader in psychiatric services, research and education. With a critical need for psychiatric beds in Massachusetts, CHA has embarked on a major expansion to serve more people with acute behavioral health needs or in emotional crisis.

The Problem

Mental Health Illustration

In the past several years, there has been significant growth in demand for inpatient behavioral health services in Massachusetts. This is consistent with national trends that show a sharp increase in behavioral health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, patients with acute mental health needs often spend days or weeks in Emergency Departments waiting for a bed, a practice known as “boarding.” This is scary for patients, delays treatment and stresses the state’s already-strained health care system.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need and urgency to increase psychiatric inpatient capacity across the state. Once again, Cambridge Health Alliance has stepped up to meet the health needs of the community, and in particular, of children with complex behavioral health needs.”

Marylou Sudders, MSW, ACSW
Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services

Our Ambitious Plan

In December 2020, CHA announced an expansion of inpatient psychiatry, building on our longtime expertise in behavioral health care. The plan, developed in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is adding 64 new beds to benefit people of all ages, including at-risk populations identified as high priorities by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Details

Child & Adolescent Services

CHA is creating a new Inpatient Mental Health Center for children and adolescents at its Somerville Campus. The Center will be home to 69 child and adolescent beds, an increase of 42 beds in the Boston region. 

One key aspect of the plan is the creation of neurodevelopmental unit for children and adolescents. This unit will provide multidisciplinary and specialized care to patients with autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity or severe anxiety (children), or schizophrenia, depression and other disorders (adolescents).

The end result will be a Center for Inpatient Child & Adolescent Psychiatry offering a patient- and family-centered environment that provides transformative care for diverse youth. It will include many private rooms and outdoor recreation space. It will also be a hub for training and research to improve the health of children in Massachusetts and beyond. 

Adult and Geriatric Services

CHA is converting two units at Cambridge Hospital to adult psychiatry units. This will result in 22-24 new adult beds.

Once these changes are complete, CHA will have 64 total adult psychiatry beds -- three units at CHA Cambridge Hospital and one at CHA Everett Hospital. In addition, CHA will maintain a 22-bed Geriatric Psychiatry unit in Everett for specialized care of older adults. 

Timing

June 2021:

21-bed adolescent unit for ages 13-17

7 new beds and 14 relocated from Cambridge. 

June 2022:

24-bed child unit for ages 3-12

11 new beds and 13 relocated from Cambridge

24 Neurodevelopmental beds

New services for children and adolescents

December 2022:

Converting two units to adult psychiatry 

22-24 new adult beds

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