HOUSTON, TEXAS – Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy underscored the importance of advancing psychiatric research today during the grand opening celebration of The Menninger Clinic’s new state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital located on 50 acres near the prestigious Texas Medical Center. One of the nation’s leading psychiatric hospitals, Menninger built the new hospital to support and accelerate future advancements in mental health treatment, prevention and leading-edge research. Menninger will begin admitting and treating patients at the new hospital in early May.
“Menninger’s new hospital epitomizes the synergies needed to approach the new frontier of research that explains the development of mental illness and how the brain and behavior intersect. This research combined with Menninger’s intricate, patient-focused treatment approach will undoubtedly bring relief to the family members of those who suffer from brain-based diseases spanning from neurological disorders to mental illnesses,” said Kennedy who co-founded One Mind for Research, an organization dedicated to sharing resources for neurological and mental health research.
Menninger’s staff and donors have referred to the new hospital as the “Mental Health Epicenter,” recognizing the new location and facilities will help Menninger establish its position at the center of global mental health research by fostering greater collaboration among researchers and scientists at the nearby Texas Medical Center as well as nationally and internationally. Already affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and The Methodist Hospital, Menninger’s focus on research collaboration was an integral factor in the hospital’s original move to Houston from Topeka, Kansas, in 2003.
“Our hope for the Epicenter is that the ideas, science and clinical care that emerge here will emanate into the global community. This work is critical to educating the public about mental illnesses and encouraging them to be unashamed in seeking assessment and treatment,” said Ian Aitken, Menninger’s president and CEO. “The time is now right to position Menninger as the ‘MD Anderson’ of mental health,” he added drawing a parallel to the advances made by the top-ranked cancer hospital also located in Houston.
Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright design principles, the prairie-style hospital campus features low-slung roofs and residential-scale buildings that don’t look institutional. Intricate design details incorporated by Menninger at the new facility create a residential, community atmosphere that reflects the best practices in environments designed to promote healing for the mentally ill.
Menninger’s residential environment is especially important since the hospital’s average patient stay is 45 days--longer than the five-to-seven day average patient stays at acute psychiatric facilities. Menninger has found that this approach gives patients a chance to recover and, a better opportunity to initiate lasting change, reducing the cost of recurring acute hospitalizations.
“Our intensive and interdisciplinary approach to treatment takes time and it’s important to us that the new Menninger Clinic provides an environment that is optimal for the recovery process,” said Dr. John Oldham, Menninger’s senior vice president and chief of staff and the American Psychiatric Association’s current president. “Research shows us that by making our patients feel at home and at ease while here, they’re more likely to get better and to stay better.”
Every patient room and common area has views of natural light, which according to evidence-based design principles, helps patients’ well-being. There are ample indoor and outdoor conversation and gathering places as well as expansive green spaces with trees. Additional features that support patients’ well-being and recovery include: an interfaith chapel, expressive art room, sculpture garden, meditation labyrinth and a wellness center that houses a weight room, an aerobics room, recreation-size basketball court, an outdoor therapeutic saltwater swimming pool and a sand volleyball court.
With a 120 beds, an increase of 24 beds from the previous hospital, Menninger houses five inpatient units and offers psychiatric assessment and stabilization as well as services for addictions, eating disorders and spirituality. Specialty treatment programs are available for adolescents ages 12-17, young adults and professionals in crisis.
“The need for research in mental health led us to relocate Menninger to Houston, affiliating with Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital. From that time, we planned to build this new campus. The time is now right to create the ‘MD Anderson’ of mental health,” added Aitken.
Designed by Kirksey Architecture, the 161,000 square-foot facility was built by Tellepsen and follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design principles.
The Menninger Clinic is a national psychiatric hospital offering specialty diagnostic and treatment programs, educational programs for mental health professionals and research. Menninger has been named among the best hospitals in psychiatry for 21 consecutive years by psychiatrists nationwide in U.S. News & World Report's annual survey.