The Acadia Hospital in Bangor is seen on May 2, 2012. Credit: Kevin Bennett / BDN

Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor plans to add more private rooms as it sees demand for psychiatric services in the state grow, the hospital’s parent organization, Northern Light Health, said Friday.

The addition of private rooms at the facility on Stillwater Avenue will allow the hospital, one of two private psychiatric hospitals in the state, to serve more patients and make use of more of its patient beds, according to Northern Light.

Acadia saw a 50 percent spike in psychiatric consultations from emergency rooms across much of the state between March 2019 and March 2020, signaling a growing demand for psychiatric care. The reasons for those consultations included suicidal behavior, self-harm, substance use and behavioral outbursts, said Dr. Anthony Ng, Acadia’s medical director of community services.

On any given day, 30 to 35 patients in those emergency rooms need psychiatric beds that are often unavailable, Ng said. Half are children.

“This is a challenging situation for hospital emergency rooms and patients who would benefit from admission to a psychiatric hospital without delay,” he said.

The hospital is licensed to have 100 inpatient beds, but most are in semi-private rooms with two beds each. In many cases, patients can’t share a room, rendering the other beds in those rooms unusable.

On most days, the hospital can’t use 20 to 25 of its beds for this reason, said Dr. John Campbell, vice president and senior physician executive at Acadia.

“This lack of available beds places undue strain on emergency departments which are often the only alternative for emergency psychiatric care,” he said. “Psychiatric patients can sometimes spend days in emergency rooms waiting for beds.”

The hospital has begun the planning and design process and will seek regulatory approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, with construction slated to begin in spring 2022.

The addition of private rooms at Acadia is among a number of major construction and renovation projects slated for the 10-hospital Northern Light system in the coming years.

Northern Light said earlier this year it planned to replace its hospitals in Greenville and Blue Hill, with construction expected to start by spring 2022.

In Ellsworth, the hospital system plans to build a new birthing center at Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital, with construction there also expected to start next year. That project will also include the renovation of inpatient rooms into private rooms and the relocation of several offices.

In Portland, Northern Light is in the midst of consolidating Mercy Hospital’s two campuses into one.

Correction: An earlier version of this report listed an incorrect timeframe during which psychiatric consultations had increased.

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.