Amid opioid epidemic, new mental health, addiction treatment hospital opens in Reno
By the numbers
51st: Nevada’s national rank in mental health
665: Nevadans who died of drug overdose in 2016
43 million: Americans with a mental health condition
56: Percentage of them that did not receive treatment
Sources: Mental Health America, Center for Disease Control
RENO, Nev. — It’s an unsettling fact: Nevada ranks last in the nation in mental health, according to Mental Health America’s 2018 State of Mental Health Report, which measures everything from a state’s prevalence of mental health conditions to its availability of care.
The ranking wasn’t an anomaly. It was the second year in a row Nevada finished dead last at 51st (including Washington, D.C.) in MHA’s annual report.
Year in year out, Nevada is ranked one of the worst states to live for people with mental health challenges — and the rest of the country isn’t doing much better. According to MHA, more than 43 million Americans have a mental health condition, and more than half of them (56 percent) do not receive treatment.
These alarming realties spell out why Steve Shell, of Signature Healthcare Services, planted a behavioral healthcare hospital in Las Vegas back in 2013. Five years later, Shell has opened up the first mental health and addiction treatment hospital in fast-growing Reno in more than 35 years.
Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, located at 6940 Sierra Center Parkway in south Reno, opened April 12. The 80,000-square-foot facility offers 124 beds and comprehensive inpatient and outpatient programs for psychiatric and addiction treatment for all ages.
“We identified that the entire state of Nevada is woefully underserved in mental health and addiction,” said hospital CEO Shell. “Once we established in Las Vegas, we moved toward the north and built here. We have major mental health and addiction needs in this state, and we feel like we gave the community another option for treatment, which has been lacking here a long time.”
As a result, Shell said that many area residents that needed care are choosing to go to Sacramento or the Bay Area for their treatment.
“We felt with the population growing the way it is here (in Northern Nevada), and the fact that there aren’t a lot of treatment options, it made sense to invest in this commitment in this part of the state,” he said. “Now, we can be able to give those residents and others an option to have treatment here.”
The timing of opening a new hospital was even more critical than Shell initially realized. On April 6, WestCare, a crisis mental health and detox clinic in Reno, abruptly shut its doors, leaving 35 people unemployed.
Shell said the hospital is working with other leaders in the community to discuss the best way to address the services WestCare previously provided.
‘IT WILL SAVE LIVES’
In 2016, 665 Nevadans died from drug overdose, equating to 21.7 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to the Center for Disease Control. The national average is 19.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.
All told, opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide, as 42,249 of the 63,600 overdose deaths in 2016 involved opioids, the CDC reported.
“The opioid crisis continues to get worse every day,” Shell said. “We’re trying very hard to fight that crisis, and our facility is just one step in that fight — to be able to give people treatment options that they deserve and need.
“Because, ultimately, it impacts all of us, whether it be employers, your neighborhoods, your churches, your schools … it impacts all of us one way or another.”
At the hospital’s grand opening and ribbon-cutting on April 12, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt spoke about the importance of the new facility.
“I work with mayors all across the country that are speaking about how critical this is (to have services),” Mayor Scheive said. “The services and the funding, every time we turn around they’re being cut, and as a mayor, that is super frustrating for me. Because we have to continue to work on some of the biggest issues that face our city, and this is one of them. Mental health and drug addiction are huge and this is what it takes to save lives.”
Laxalt echoed the Reno mayor, and opened about his past struggle with addiction.
“When I was 18 years old, I was sent away to a treatment facility,” he said. “If that important step had not happened in my life, and my ability to maintain sobriety in these many decades since, I wouldn’t be here today.
“This is very, very important that Reno has done this and that Steve has stepped up to give this great facility to our community. Most importantly, it will save lives.”
RAISING THE STANDARD
Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is privately funded and accepts private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
Shell said the state-of-the-art facility was designed to create a therapeutic environment and a comfortable setting for patients.
“There’s still such a stigma around mental health and addiction and we’re just trying to erase that stigma as much as we can,” he added. “Our goal is to raise the standard of care for this community.”
The number to call for assessments and referrals is 775-393-2201. More information about Reno Behavioral Healthcare Hospital can be found at Renobehavioral.com.
The 29-minute opioid documentary was one of four nominees, selected from 26 original entries, for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Pacific Southwest Chapter.