State reexamining Caro Center reconstruction project; outside consultant to assess state psychiatric facility needs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 13, 2019

CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – Concerns about staffing, ability for patients’ families to be involved in their treatment and water accessibility have caused state officials to delay the Caro Center Reconstruction project to allow for an outside consultant to review the project and recommend next steps to best meet the needs of Michigan’s citizens.

In 2017, the state legislature authorized financing to construct a new hospital on the Caro site. The new Caro Psychiatric Hospital was scheduled to be completed in 2021 and serve 200 adults, an increase of 50 beds from the existing facility.

However, current hospital operations in Caro face notable challenges, including staffing shortages and barriers to recruitment of staff at the hospital. There is not currently an active permanent psychiatrist on staff at Caro, and psychiatrists from other state hospitals have been pulled in to provide treatment for patients.

The location is also creating challenges for patients and their families, with only 30 percent of the current 86 patients living within 75 miles of Caro. This challenges family and community engagement, which are key to psychological stability and improvement.

Identifying a safe, sustainable water source at an acceptable cost has also caused a delay in the design and could end up costing $2.4 million in addition to the $115 million already budgeted for the project.

“Based on these issues, we have decided to seek outside consultation to review the proposed Caro Center project to determine what is in the best interest of Michiganders who need critical state hospital services,” said Robert Gordon, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director. “Bed capacity, access to trained staff and proximity to family and community services will be a part of the reexamination.”

The Caro Center build will pause during the reexamination; however, MDHHS will continue to operate the current facility, serve patients, and complete routine maintenance and repairs through the hospital’s budget.

A recommendation on the project is expected by the end of June.

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