ARHS-funded renovations are underway to create a new 8-bed medical acute care unit, followed by grant-funded renovations for an additional 27 behavioral health inpatient beds at Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH). We want to keep the community informed during and after the renovations. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you have any further questions, feel free to contact us directly.
How does the lack of psychiatric beds affect the High Country?
Each year Cannon Memorial Hospital’s (CMH) 10-bed behavioral health unit receives over 5,000 referrals, but we are only able to admit approximately 500 patients. While all of those referrals are not from the High Country exclusively, it clearly paints a picture of a gap across the state of North Carolina relative to inpatient psychiatric care.
How does the lack of psychiatric beds affect Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital?
A delay in accessing behavioral health treatment creates longer wait times in emergency departments for psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients alike. The average length of stay or wait time to find appropriate treatment options for behavioral health patients is 16 hours at Watauga Medical Center and 18 hours at Cannon Memorial Hospital.
The inpatient behavioral health unit at CMH is the only one within a 40 mile radius. Treatment options for behavioral health patients are often far from home, community resources and social supports which make the recovery process much more challenging.
How will the expansion of behavioral health beds at CMH help the community?
By expanding the number of behavioral health beds available within the High Country, our healthcare system will provide more opportunity for High Country residents to receive treatment close to home. The additional beds will also streamline the referral process and decrease the wait time for behavioral health patients that visit our emergency rooms.
Will CMH still accept all types of hospital patients, or only accept behavioral health patients?
Although the expansion is focused on behavioral health, Cannon Memorial Hospital will meet the medical needs of the community by continuing to operate as a Critical Access Hospital. All services that are currently available will continue – inpatient medical care, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Cardiovascular Services, Emergency Services, Imaging and Lab Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Surgical Services, and more.
What type of behavioral health patients will CMH accept? What measures are being taken to ensure the patients and community are safe?
We will provide a wide array of Behavioral Health Services within our community. Our inpatient services will be housed in a secure setting where patients can receive high quality behavioral health care. Our behavioral health patients are also our community members – friends, neighbors, and family members who, at any given time, may be having a hard time coping with circumstances in their lives and need intervention. Cannon Memorial Hospital will provide a safe space for those who would otherwise have nowhere to go, or would have to travel a distance to find help.
Why are there only 8 beds in the new inpatient medical wing? Will that meet the needs of our community for other things beside behavioral health?
For the expansion, we based the number of inpatient beds on the average number of inpatients over the past 3-4 years. On any given day, we have an average of six patients in our medical beds. Eight is an optimal number based upon our admissions patterns.