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UChicago Medicine adds beds, staff for behavioral health at Ingalls Memorial Hospital

To help address the growing need for more mental health services on Chicago’s South Side and the South Suburbs, the University of Chicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital has added 15 beds to its behavioral health department inpatient unit. The new space is now open.

In addition to the capital investments to open the new unit, Ingalls Memorial has added an inpatient attending psychiatrist and an outpatient psychiatric nurse practitioner at its Tinley Park location.

“Since the pandemic, it seems the severity of psychiatric illness has been increasing exponentially,” said Carolyn Shima, MD, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago Medicine. “There’s a really large need in our community for behavioral health services.”

The new space and staffing will support continuity of care, said James Stroble, executive director of Primary Care and Behavioral Health at UChicago Medicine. Behavioral health patients in Emergency Departments at Ingalls in Harvey and at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park will be able to get to an inpatient bed more quickly, and stay within the UChicago Medicine network more easily.

The new unit also will support future plans at Ingalls to develop a “first-break” psychosis program for patients and their families facing an inpatient behavioral health hospitalization for the first time by connecting them with educational and community support resources, Stroble said. 

The program will help to provide wraparound treatment to those with psychotic illness early in the disease process to improve outcomes and access to preventative care.

“The UChicago Medicine health system and Ingalls Memorial are both voicing right now a really strong dedication to behavioral health on all fronts,” Shima said, “recognizing the needs of our community, recognizing the needs of our patients and recognizing, I hope, a shift in attitudes toward behavioral health nationwide.”

“We are one of the only hospitals on the South Side of Chicago that is providing an academic level of care for behavioral health,” Shima added, noting that Ingalls Memorial has one of the state’s highest emergency department visit rates for behavioral health issues, according to the UChicago Medicine Community Health Needs Assessment 2021-2022. “The majority of our patients have had some exposure to trauma in their lives.”

Mike Antoniades, president of Ingalls Memorial, said the $840,000 expansion effort is vital for the area, particularly when other facilities are reducing or closing behavioral health services.

“Mental health is one of the biggest determinants of health,” Antoniades said. “We are committed to improving behavioral health access and care in our communities. This is just the beginning of our efforts to improve the experience for behavioral health patients and their families at Ingalls.”

While UChicago Medicine has satellite sites throughout Chicagoland offering behavioral health services, including intensive outpatient programs, Ingalls is the primary inpatient psychiatric unit for the entire health system.

One goal of the expansion is to reach people sooner in their illness. Many patients are coming to Ingalls in crisis, even though the support and care options are available to them well before then, Shima said.

Shima urged people who feel like they are in crisis or are concerned about a loved one to seek out behavioral healthcare immediately.

Ingalls offers free, confidential assessment and referrals, where trained mental health professionals are available 24/7 by calling 708-915-6411. Patients also may make an appointment by calling 708-915-8600. Walk-in screenings at Ingalls are also offered.

Behavioral health services are available at the following locations:

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