AHN Forbes Hospital opens new emergency department behavioral health suite

Updated on October 8, 2023

Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Forbes Hospital has opened a new facility in its emergency department (ED) that is uniquely designed and equipped to better care for a growing number of patients coming to the hospital with behavioral health needs.  

Forbes’ new 2,000-square-foot behavioral health suite was created to provide a safe, quiet, and calming environment for patients experiencing an acute behavioral health episode to be evaluated and cared for.  The suite provides more privacy, security, and protection from the emergency department’s bustling, higher-traffic areas.

“Being hospitalized or visiting an emergency department is incredibly stressful for anyone, let alone those who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis,” said Mark Rubino, MD, president of AHN Forbes Hospital. “Our intention was to build a dedicated space within our emergency department that is specifically tailored to the unique needs of these vulnerable patients, equipped with innovative therapeutic resources, and staffed by experienced, compassionate behavioral health physicians, nurses and support teams.”   

Nationally, mental and behavioral health-related ED visits account for about 12 percent of all adult ED trips. And from 2011 to 2020, the proportion of emergency room visits for mental health reasons doubled for child and adolescent patients.

Behavioral health patients also tend to have longer stays in EDs than non-psychiatric patients, heightening the need for dedicated behavioral health observation and treatment spaces. 

Each year, Forbes sees about 2,300 behavioral health patients in its emergency department. Forbes joins three other AHN hospitals – AHN Wexford, AHN Jefferson, and AHN Saint Vincent in Erie – in having designated behavioral health suites within their emergency departments. 

The new AHN Forbes behavioral health emergency department suite features three specialized behavioral health treatment rooms, two behavioral health convertible exam rooms, one patient/family consultation room, an anti-ligature restroom with shower, and a common area.  Calming imagery and circadian lighting elements are featured throughout the suite, to mitigate sensory overload, reduce anxiety and promote well-being. 

The suite also features a secure central nursing station that provides a direct line of sight to all patient areas within the unit.

Forbes also operates a 37-bed inpatient behavioral health unit, which provides additional services for people experiencing serious behavioral health crises and mood disorders. 

“With the mental and behavioral health treatment needs rising throughout the country and within the many communities we serve, providing safe, healing environments for our patients is vitally important to not only meeting their immediate mental health needs, but also to help improve their overall health, well-being and quality of life.  That’s the essence of our Living Health model,” said Doug Henry, PhD, vice president of the AHN Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Institute. 

“We modeled this amazing new space in our ED at Forbes after some of the best examples in the country, including several of those we have already opened at other AHN hospitals and that are already making a big difference in our patients’ lives.”  

The new Forbes ED behavioral health suite, and other recent ED improvements, were supported by donors to Forbes Health Foundation, which raises funds to support and advance quality health care at Forbes Hospital. 

Patients experiencing psychiatric or behavioral health concerns can call the AHN Triage Team at 412-330-4429 or visit https://www.ahn.org/services/psychiatry-mental-health to learn more about the AHN Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Institute. 

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