Mental Health Services Expand in Western Massachusetts as Baystate Behavioral Health Hospital Campus Breaks Ground

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 7 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

Partners from Baystate Health, LifePoint Health (Kindred Healthcare), The Sanders Trust—an organization that specializes exclusively in the development of healthcare projects in partnership with leading health systems and physician groups—and DPR Construction were in attendance for the Baystate Behavioral Health Hospital groundbreaking ceremony. The largest construction project in Holyoke, MA, at the time of groundbreaking, the facility will provide critical behavioral health programs to western Massachusetts residents, allowing patients to receive local treatment and support.

Rendering of the entry into the behavioral health facility. Courtesy of Stengel Hill Architects

The campus includes three buildings:

  • A four-story, 95,000-sq.-ft.building, which will house 120 semi-private rooms and be used by the Joint Venture (JV) partners of Baystate Health and Lifepoint Health.
  • A one-story 23,000-sq.-ft. building with 30 private rooms for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Deptarment of Mental Health Continuing Care Program.
  • A 4,000-sq.-ft.gym dedicated to therapy services.

The grounds will feature multiple courtyards, three half basketball courts, and picnic tables.

"We’re excited to continue our relationship with Baystate Health and bring mental health, developmental, and substance abuse programs to western Massachusetts. It will not only provide valuable services to the local residents, it will also bring specialized jobs and opportunities for the local construction trade workforce,” said Steve Sheahan, Northeast Healthcare Core Market Leader.

The groundbreaking was attended by local officials including Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia and State Rep. Patricia A. Duffy. Speakers touched upon the need for mental health facilities, especially after the constant changes brought on by the pandemic and closure of several local facilities. Mark Keroack, Baystate Health’s president and CEO, said that “the facts tell the story.” A quarter of adults and a third of children are going without needed mental health care, he said, and 681 behavioral health patients across the state were boarding in emergency rooms, waiting for the kind of beds the new facility will provide.

Joint Venture partners and local officials break ground on the new Baystate Behavioral Health Hospital. Courtesy of Joanne Castner

“I understand firsthand the critical importance of proper healthcare for these bright, intelligent individuals having had my own family members deal with behavioral health issues,” shared David Rojas, senior project manager. “Being an integral part of the construction of this new ground-up facility that will offer programs to both children and adults in the area is a truly rewarding opportunity for me.”

While behavioral health facilities have many of the same general concerns as other medical facilities, they also require a high attention to the design and installation of the details to address patient and staff safety in a healing environment. A team of experts from across the U.S. is using virtual design and construction methods to collaborate and verify details, including a drone for weekly progress updates.

The drone runs a programmed route that takes 1,200 to 1,300 photos each flight. These images are massed into a 3D model that the team will use to share project status information, track and verify site work progress, and collect inspection data normally done by someone physically walking the site. It also provides the owner and members of the team access to visuals of project progress.

The next major milestone the team is working towards is structural steel topping out this summer. The project is aiming for completion in Summer 2023.

Drone capture of the project site in February 2022 before foundations began. Courtesy of Stuart Osborn