Copper Springs Market CEO Jessica Black

Cutting the ribbon for Gilbert’s first behavioral health hospital were, from left, Copper Springs Market CEO Jessica Black, Copper East CEO Beckie Shauinger, parent company Springstone CEO Phil Spencer and Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kevin DeRosa.

Gilbert’s first in-patient behavioral health hospital with 72 beds is now open for business – seven years after it failed in its initial attempts to locate in the community.

Company officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Monday for Copper Springs East at the northeast corner of Melrose and Rome streets, south of Mercy Gilbert Medical Center. 

“We know we can make a difference with our new facility here in Gilbert,” said Matt Flynn, CCO of parent company Springstone in Kentucky. “I know lives will be saved.”

Flynn cited sobering statistics that included over 40 percent of adults have admitted to some level of depression with 10 percent or one in 10 adults having contemplated suicide and that Arizona ranked No. 8 in the country for death by suicide. Additionally, drug deaths have increased 53 percent in Arizona in the last decade, he said.

And now people are wrestling with the additional burden of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Flynn.

About 200 people attended the virtual open house that also featured Gilbert Mayor Scott Anderson, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kevin DeRosa, Copper East CEO Beckie Shauinger, parent company Springstone CEO Phil Spencer and Copper Springs Market CEO Jessica Black. Anderson and DeRosa welcomed the facility to the community while the company officials thanked its staff and supporters.

The 60,000-square-foot Gilbert facility is one of Springstone’s two locations in Arizona. The 72-bed Copper Springs in Avondale opened in May 2016. 

Copper Springs offers inpatient and outpatient services for adults struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, addiction and other mental-health issues. Copper Springs East has hired more than 100 employees, including nurses, physicians, behavioral health experts and administration for the new facility.

Springstone, which has over 30 behavioral health facilities across the country, has no plans for additional hospitals at this time, said company spokeswoman Kelly Sorice.

The Gilbert facility began construction in the summer of 2018 and originally aimed for a 2019 opening but was held up due to the need for tweaking plans and some minor construction delays, Sorice said.

“We weren’t willing to sacrifice any details of the design, so we prioritized enacting our vision over meeting any specific timelines,” she said. “We’re very happy with how the facility turned out, and are excited to begin caring for patients there.”

It’s been a long road for Springstone to reach what one company official said Monday “a milestone.”

Springstone initially attempted to locate in Gilbert in spring 2013. The company at the time pitched a proposal to build a mental-health facility at Greenfield and Baseline roads but abandoned plans after neighborhood opposition from people concerned it was near Pioneer Elementary School.

The company later that year settled on a site near Val Vista Drive and Williams Field Road but again ran into opposition from neighbors there worried about the proximity to homes, shopping centers and a school-bus stop.

After those failed attempts, the company went to Avondale to open its facility.

In 2017, a land-use attorney for the company approached Gilbert again – this time armed with a town-commissioned needs assessment study that identified gaps in access to mental, behavioral and substance abuse treatment programs in the community. 

Town fire and police officials also spoke Gilbert’s need for this type of facility.

Sorice said the company expected to see patients to come to the Gilbert facility from across the East Valley and noted that the Avondale location runs at full, or nearly full, capacity on most every day of the year. 

“We are seeing an increase in those with depression, including suicidal ideation, as well as an increase in those facing addiction challenges,” she said. “The isolation and fear associated with the pandemic has truly exacerbated the issues for those who face mental health issues.”

Soon, Copper Springs East won’t be the only behavioral health hospital in town.

The town’s Planning Commission in March approved a conditional use permit for a 24-bed psychiatric hospital for older patients, south of Mercy Road by 156th Street near existing medical offices.

The 16,400-square-foot Sana Behavioral Hospital will be a 24-hour acute treatment facility for patients 55 and older with psychiatric disorders. 

“Congratulations on your beautiful new facility,” wrote Ryan Eggleston, CFO of ERH Healthcare, which operates Sana Behavioral hospitals during last Monday’s Zoom open house. “It’s exciting to think about the huge impact for good that you’ll have in the community. We’re excited to be neighbors next year.” 

Information: coppersprings.com/locations/gilbert-az/ or 480-667-5500