Dr. Jerry Sheward, right, chief medical officer for the state's new NeuroDiagnostic Institute, shows a living area to Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Floors have been designed around Hoosier landscapes. Scott L. Miley | CNHI News Indiana
Dr. Jerry Sheward, right, chief medical officer for the state's new NeuroDiagnostic Institute, shows a living area to Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Floors have been designed around Hoosier landscapes. Scott L. Miley | CNHI News Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS — About 1,500 Hoosiers are expected to be served annually by the new NeuroDiagnostIc Institute and Advanced Treatment Center.

The facility, Indiana's first new psychiatric hospital in over 50 years, is equipped with virtual reality, light therapy and brain imaging rooms.

"To give you an idea of the significance of expanding psychiatric services, it has been 53 years since Indiana has done what we're doing today," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

On Friday, FSSA sponsored a ribbon-cutting, attended by more than 200, to open the $118 million facility, known as NDI.

Built next to Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, the 159-bed long-term care facility will offer treatment for adults and children who have complex neuropsychiatric illnesses. The goal is to reintegrate patients into the community or the state mental health system, which includes six psychiatric hospitals.

Patient referrals will come from community mental health centers, other state hospitals and court judges. Patients are to be accepted in the next few weeks, officials said. About 50 patients will be transferred from Indianapolis' Larue Carter Memorial Hospital, which is being shuttered.

NDI, with a $30 million annual operating budget, will have a staff of about 500, including seven psychiatrists, 80 nurses and at least 200 behavioral health rehabilitation attendants.

NDI's chief medical officer, Dr. Jerry Sheward, worked 25 years with Aspire Indiana, which has mental health treatment facilities in Anderson, Lebanon, Carmel, Noblesville and Elwood. At Aspire, Sheward helped develop a tele-medicine plan for rural patient access to psychiatrists.

"This building is very technology heavy, so those kind of prior experiences are really helpful," Sheward said.

In rooms where patients will be monitored, doors have window blinds controlled from the hallway. To prevent suicides, rooms and bathrooms have been designed so a patient can't wrap a belt or blanket around a hook; sinks have push buttons and handrails have no opening between the rail and wall.

For privacy, an enclosed playground for children has been built on a roof. An outdoor picnic area is on a sixth-floor balcony protected by fencing. Lighting is circadian, designed to control the intensity and color of lights.

There's a sliding panel in one relaxation area that closes access to a water fountain to protect patients with a water consumption disorder. 

Special treatment rooms are set up for programs such as anti-depression stimulation using magnets, and there's a monitoring room for patients who suffer seizures.

A vacant room is set up — but not operational — for ketamine infusion therapy, which has been controversial for treatment of severe depression and suicidal tendencies. NDI will not initially use that infusion therapy, Sheward said.

Sven Schumacher is CEO of Lutheran Child and Family Services, located about a block from NDI. The facility includes Lutherwood, which serves behavioral or emotional impairment patients from the ages of 6 to 31.

"We are super excited about it because at Lutherwood we have young people that are waiting for placement or they could step down to our facility. It is very, very important," he said while touring the NDI facility.

Sheward hopes NDI's opening will elevate Indiana's reputation for psychiatric care.

"Community mental health centers and acute care hospitals don't necessarily see the state of Indiana as being a resource in providing longer-term care. This is an attempt to correct that situation," Sheward said.

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