Duke Regional Opens New Behavioral Health Center and Emergency Department

Duke Behavioral Health Center North DurhamThe behavioral health facility consolidates Duke services, features patient-focused design

Answering a long-standing need in the community for enhanced behavioral health services, Duke Health is opening a newly built center at Duke Regional Hospital that will provide a setting specifically designed for the comfort and care of these patients. 

The new center will, for the first time, combine the behavioral health services that had been offered separately at Duke University and Duke Regional hospitals, creating dedicated, specially designed space at the single location.

The Duke Behavioral Health Center North Durham will open on the Duke Regional Hospital campus following a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, April 12.

The $102.4 million project also includes an expansion of the hospital’s emergency department, which has been moving into the new space on a rolling basis as construction is completed.

“Duke Regional Hospital has served an integral mission as Durham’s community hospital for 45 years, including the last 23 years as part of Duke Health,” said William J. Fulkerson, Jr., M.D., executive vice president for Duke University Health System. “These new buildings provide expanded and upgraded space for both medical emergencies and behavioral health. But more than that, they represent our ongoing commitment to the dedicated and compassionate care that Duke Regional has always provided, and that the community trusts they will receive.”

The new behavioral health services include:

  • 42 private inpatient rooms with two secure courtyards;
  • 18 private treatment spaces in the emergency department with a secure courtyard;
  • 30 outpatient clinic rooms;
  • Electroconvulsive therapy.

“This new center is an outward testimony of Duke’s commitment to providing exceptional behavioral health care in an inviting and therapeutic space,” said Carey Unger, associate vice president for neurosciences and behavioral health at Duke University Health System. “It’s an affirmation that we treat and respect our community’s behavioral health needs.”

Providing patients with a modern, welcoming space was a key part of the design process. Windows in inpatient rooms provide ample natural light, and the unit includes a gym, a multipurpose room and two inpatient courtyards – one for activities and one for meditation.

“It is my sincere wish that this facility will provide comfort, hope, information and inclusion both for the patients, but also for their family/caregivers who are with them on their journey,” said Suzanne Mayer, a member of the Duke Behavioral Health’s Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Expansion of the emergency department also enables the hospital to better meet patient volumes. The new addition increases capacity from 36 to 49 treatment rooms.

“Our emergency department was built to accommodate 25,000 to 35,000 patient visits annually,” said Katie Galbraith, president of Duke Regional Hospital and interim head of community health for DUHS. “But we now see up to 64,000 patients a year. This expansion addresses these needs.”

Over much of the last three years with construction underway, the emergency department team has worked through four different construction phases within the hospital. The public entrance that has recently been near Cancer Services will open April 13 at its permanent location off Crutchfield Street, adjacent to the main hospital building.

“We have always provided excellent clinical care,” Galbraith said, “but we wanted to serve our patients in a better environment. These new facilities for both the emergency department and behavioral health care will enhance the care experience for our patients, their loved ones and our community.”

“This supportive, caring and therapeutic environment is a place where people experiencing mental illness and behavioral health problems can now work with a team of experts who are dedicated to their successful treatment,” said A. Eugene Washington, M.D., chancellor for health affairs and president/CEO of the Duke University Health System. “We’re grateful to the patients, families and community groups who inspired and guided us toward this moment.”


By the Numbers

  • Construction began inside the hospital: March 2018
  • New building groundbreaking: March 25, 2019
  • Construction completed: March 2021
  • Project cost: $102.4 million
  • Square footage: 112,246
  • Outpatient behavioral health: Increased from 19 to 30 clinic rooms with this move
  • Inpatient behavioral health: Consolidated two inpatient units into one to offer 42 private rooms

April 12, 2021

This story was originally published by Duke Health