Officials take part in a "beam topping" ceremony for the River Vista Behavioral Health hospital in Madera. Image via Valley Children's Healthcare

published on October 5, 2021 - 3:32 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Valley Children’s Healthcare, in partnership with Universal Health Services, celebrated a construction milestone on its way to finish River Vista Behavioral Health hospital in Madera.

Turner Construction Co., which is contracted by Universal Health Services, broke ground in 2020. Because Covid-19 surges kept the official groundbreaking from happening, the two health systems celebrated with a traditional “beam topping,” a milestone by which the final beam is placed in the structural foundation.

The behavioral health hospital is slated for opening early 2023. Recruitment efforts will begin six months before the hospital opens. At its full operational level, the hospital will employ 250 and 300 workers, including physicians, nurses, clinicians, mental health technicians and support staff. It will be owned and operated by Universal Health Services as an independent hospital.

The new facility comes as the need for mental health care in the Central Valley strengthens.

“As our nation faces compounding crises, the need for high-quality mental healthcare is on the rise, as are suicide rates and calls for help,” said Mike Zauner, Universal Health Services group director for behavioral health. “It is exciting to partner with Valley Children’s Healthcare to bring this new facility to this region. We recognize Valley Children’s shares our mission and vision to provide patients and their loved ones with compassionate behavioral healthcare, services and support. We look forward to reintroducing hope and healthy therapeutic living to patients and their families.”

River Vista will be located at 40886 Goodwin Way in Madera and will provide a continuum of inpatient services for children and adolescents. Specialty programs for adults with co-occurring behavioral health and substance use issues will also be offered. 

Through the partnership, Valley Children’s Healthcare and Universal Health Services hope to deliver a new psychiatric residency program, and telepsychiatry services for services, which will fall under Valley Children’s network of care. 

In the interim, Universal Health Services’ subsidiary HealthLinkNow will pilot a telepsychiatry service in October at one of Valley Children’s primary care practices in Fresno. It will eventually expand to other practices in the health care network and other pediatric practices in the area.

The new 81,600-square-foot facility will feature 128 beds – 24 of which are specifically dedicated to children ages 5 to 17. 

Suntrapak said that River Vista Behavioral Health will provide behavioral health services closer to home, as families currently have to travel three and four hours for mental health care.

“I think this is one of the most important things that we have achieved at Valley Children’s in the last decade,” said Valley Children’s President and CEO Todd Suntrapak. “It’s loud and clear from our community – and all the communities we serve from Bakersfield to Sacramento – that there is simply not enough access for kids who have behavioral or mental health challenges to get the kind of care they need.”


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