More than a decade ago, the number of psychiatric beds available for Tarrant County had sunk to fewer than 200.
Slowly, that number is rebounding, and on Thursday, it got a big boost.
Sundance Behavioral Healthcare in Arlington unveiled a 60-bed expansion that will double the psychiatric facility’s capacity and provide much-needed mental health services to children and adolescents.
“Children and families are suffering,” said Dr. Puskoor Kumar, one of the hospital’s owners. “A lot of people fall through the cracks, and we must help them.”
Mayor Robert Cluck and Council Member Sheri Capehart joined community leaders and mental health professionals Thursday afternoon for a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the $5.5 million expansion.
Called the Sundance Pavilion, children ages 5 to 17 can seek treatment for a range of illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder and addiction. Patients will receive referrals from schools, therapists and hospitals, among other sources.
Sundance, which opened in 2010 in southwest Arlington, also provides 56 beds for adults. The center employs 250 people and is currently hiring more to care for the new patients.
Mayor Cluck, also a physician, said the new pavilion would serve a vital need in Arlington and surrounding areas.
“We need psychiatric in-patient facilities,” Mayor Cluck said. “Mental illness is a disease, and in many cases, it’s curable or at least treatable.”
Providing care for young children will help address mental health issues as early as possible, said Dr. David Tucker, the center’s medical director.
“The sooner the intervention, the better,” he said.
Randy Kaniecki, president of Sundance Behavioral Healthcare Systems, recalled speaking with a 12-year-old whose life was saved by in-patient psychiatric help.
“If we work together, we cannot only save a young person’s life,” Kaniecki said, “but we can also help families.”