The old United Hospital Center building has been collecting dust for the last few years. But the facility will soon have a purpose.
The Highland Hospital will open up an additional mental health facility in the vacant building. The new facility will provide nearly 200 construction jobs and more than 250 operational jobs when it opens in about a year and a half.
But the old UHC will go through quite a bit of renovations before the first patient ever moves in.
"We have to adapt this facility to a psychiatric facility. So we have to basically take out all of the walls in the facility, redo all of the plumbing fixtures, redo the electrical inside the facility. Just a lot of work you have to do," said Michael Casdorph, director of facilities and construction for Highland Hospital.
Casdorph said those changes are needed because the current facility may not be safe for psychiatric patients.
"Making sure there's no place where a patient could loop anything around a fixture or anything where they could prepare a noose," Casdorph said.
Construction crews will need to replace materials throughout the facility to ensure that.
"Tamper-resistant screw. Those are screws you can't remove with a normal screwdriver. Drywall that will withstand the abuse that psychiatric patient could put forth inside of the facility. So if they stick something into it, the outlet automatically shuts down. Making sure the plumbing fixtures are such that they are safe,"Casdorph said.
After all of that work the facility will help with some of the problems mental healthcare providers are now dealing with.
"To help with the state overcrowding. In addition to that, I think we are finding the number of children and adolescent needs in the state are there," said Jim Dissen, president of the Highland Hospital.