Valleywise Health replenishing mental health care capacity after staffing setback

Mar 1, 2024, 2:00 PM

A sign in front of a building identifies Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Maryvale in Phoeni...

Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Maryvale shuttered three wings in 2022 because of psychiatric staff shortages at the west Phoenix hospital. (Valleywise Health Photo)

(Valleywise Health Photo)

PHOENIX — Two years after staffing shortages forced Valleywise Health to cut back on psychiatric services, the network is working to replenish its mental health care capacity.

The first step came this week, when Valleywise Behavioral Health Center – Maryvale, a mental health hospital in Phoenix, reopened 15 inpatient beds.

“We have been eager to reopen these beds to care for patients challenged by serious mental illness,” Gene Cavallo, vice president of behavioral health services for Valleywise, said in a press release Wednesday. “This is another step on our journey to reopening beds impacted by severe staffing shortages that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

With 412 licensed beds at three hospitals in Mesa, central Phoenix and west Phoenix’s Maryvale neighborhood, Valleywise Health is Arizona’s largest provider of court-ordered inpatient behavioral health care, according to the release.

How is Phoenix hospital replenishing mental health care capacity?

The Maryvale location closed three wings in 2022, citing a shortage of mental health professionals.

Valleywise Health said it has been aggressively recruiting psychiatric nurses, technicians and other staff members and plans to continue reopening the the shuttered units over the next 12-18 months.

“We’re also training new psychiatrists. Through the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, Valleywise Health has a psychiatric residency program that graduates eight adult and four child psychiatrists every year,” Cavallo said.

What is Valleywise Health?

Valleywise Health, which was renamed from Maricopa Integrated Health System in 2019, is the Phoenix area’s safety net health care system.

Valleywise Health Medical Center, a new flagship hospital at 24th and Roosevelt streets in Phoenix, is set to open in April.

The new facility represents a major upgrade from Valleywise’s legacy hospital, which opened in 1971. The medical center is the only public teaching hospital in Arizona.

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Valleywise Health replenishing mental health care capacity after staffing setback