ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball joined Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center President Dr. Shafeeq Ahmed for a wall breaking ceremony to kick off construction of the medical center’s new 24-bed Behavioral Health Unit (BHU). The medical center has five available beds in its current unit. The new unit is set to open in December of 2024. Pictures from the event are here.
We must do more to support those who may be struggling in silence and that there is a dire need to invest in and expand our behavioral health infrastructure here in Howard County. This investment will enable the Hospital to proceed with a new seven-thousand square foot behavioral health unit with 24 beds. The new Behavioral Health Unit will ease overcrowding in the hospital, and ensure that more of our neighbors are able to receive timely and supportive care in an environment that supports them.
This project will make a significant impact on the community by providing a healing space for patients who arrive in the emergency department experiencing a mental health crisis. The new unit will offer patient rooms suitable for all types of care and include common areas for group and individual therapy as well as areas where patients’ families can visit. The new facility will alleviate pressure on the demand for beds in the emergency department.
From 2016 to 2019, mental health ED visits to Maryland hospitals increased roughly 30 percent and the Maryland Hospital Association reports that 18.3 percent of hospital visits in 2021 were for behavioral health, up from 10.5 percent in 2013. If the five beds typically occupied by BH patients with greater than 24 hours of stay were used for emergency room patients with a five-hour stay, the hospital projects that about 20-25 more patients could be seen in a 24-hour period.
The new BHU will be approximately 7,000 square feet in size and have the ability to house up to 24 BH patients at any given time. Since taking office, Ball has provided $12.5 million in funding to the medical center, compared to only $1.8 million in funding from FY16 to FY19.
Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center, formerly Howard County General Hospital, is a not-for-profit health care provider with 232 licensed beds located in Columbia, Maryland. A comprehensive, acute-care medical center, it offers a full range of services, from neonatal care and oncology to outpatient treatment and critical care.
The medical center has a professional staff of nearly 1,000 physicians and allied health professionals, representing 120 specialties and subspecialties, and a workforce of more than 1,800 employees.