HCN News & Notes

Congressman Neal Visits Renovated Adolescent Unit at MiraVista

HOLYOKE — During his Feb. 27 tour of the newly renovated adolescent unit at MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal called this age group a population that can be treated successfully, and the recently reopened unit “clearly a step in the right direction” for patients and family members.

Studies have long highlighted the importance of early intervention in the form of evidence-based treatment for better long-term outcomes, particularly with youth who have experienced significant increases in mental-health disorders, even before the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic.

Neal was joined on the tour by Juan Anderson-Burgos, a Holyoke City Council member who also serves as legislative aide to state Rep. Patricia Duffy, and some of the psychiatric hospital’s executives, including Dr. Negar Beheshti, its chief medical officer, who is certified in both general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, and Hospital Administrator Shelley Zimmerman.

As chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Neal has a long history in securing federal funding for legislation that increases access to much-needed mental healthcare for those of all ages and backgrounds, both in his home district and nationally.

“We invited Congressman Neal to visit MiraVista to see the updating that has been done to our hospital building that dates to the 1950s, particularly with the recent renovations to our 16-bed adolescent unit to enhance delivery of individualized care to our youngest patients in crisis, and to meet our dedicated staff,” said Kimberley Lee, MiraVista’s chief of Creative Strategy and Development. “His support for greater access to behavioral-health services is well-known, as is his support for providers of that care.”

The visit marked Neal’s first visit since the facility was sold by Trinity Health in late 2020 and reopened in spring 2021 under a new name and management as a provider of psychiatric care for adults and adolescents and substance-use services.

“We wanted the congressman to see what is being done at MiraVista to help ease the demand for inpatient psychiatric beds for both adults and those 13 to 17,” Lee said, “as well as access to outpatient substance-use services that include medication-assisted treatment and counseling.”

Neal has co-sponsored or voted for proposed legislation to authorize funding to increase access to mental-healthcare treatment to reduce gun violence; prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or religion in the provision of child welfare programs and services by entities receiving federal funding; and provide continued support for programs that seek to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. He was also instrumental in adding opioid-treatment programs and intensive outpatient therapy to Medicare coverage, removing significant barriers to treatment.