Inside Pine Rest’s expansion to help more kids


GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The week before the opening of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services’ new Cypress Flex Unit for adolescents and young adults, donors and the mental health community got a sneak peek inside.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house Tuesday marked the culmination of three years working to get state approval for 26 flex beds — which can be filled by children or adults — lining up funding and construction. The crowd clapped before they got to walk through the 27,000-square-foot expansion on Pine Rest’s Cutlerville campus.

The Cypress Flex Unit will serve teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 26. Mental health facilities are seeing so many patients in that age group that they’re maxing out capacity. Kids can spend weeks in the emergency room waiting to get into an inpatient facility.

Dr. Vegas Coleman, one of the psychiatrists who will work in the new unit, says the growing number of mental health patients in the 14 to 26 age group have more family disruptions than was common 20 years ago.

“I think because of that, kids find a lot less stability and without stability, including a father and a mother, they don’t have the tools that they need to navigate life,” Coleman said.

He’ll help patients with different mental health needs develop coping skills.

“The hope is that as we work with these patients here on the unit, we can give them the skills that they need so that they don’t have to come back,” he said.

The new unit was carefully designed to ensure the safety of patients. Heather Treib, Pine Rest’s director of operations for hospital-based services, showed 24 Hour News 8 some of the safety features, which include tamper-proof screws and doors that can only swing one way.

“The bed is completely sealed to the floor and attached to the wall, same thing with the nightstand, and that’s for safety purposes,” she pointed out.

In the bathroom, you’ll find rubber hooks.

“You can hang your towel on here or your clothes, but I can’t put any weight on this, so it’s ligature-resistant,” Treib explained.

Rooms also have a clock built into the wall and a choice of music or white noise for comfort. In a technology room, patients can work on modules and other creative activities, and also have some internet access to work on homework. A sensory room where patients can control the color of their surroundings to help them relax was put together by same company behind the adjustable lighting for the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids.

“We’re just one piece of the puzzle. We’re acute inpatient, so we’re really treating a very small period in that episode of care. So there’s needed outpatient resources, there’s needed support in the homes and there’s needed support in the schools,” Treib said.

The expansion came with a $12.4 million price tag, about half of which was covered by donations, including from the Van Andel and DeVos foundations.

The Cypress Flex Unit will open July 5.

—–Resources: Pine Rest Christian Mental Health ServicesFind mental health treatment resources near youNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255CDC: Suicide prevention

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