The opening of Beverly Hospital’s expanded Behavioral Health Pod in the Emergency Department (ED) was thanks in large part to philanthropy from generous donors—and couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. Like hospitals across the country, Beverly Hospital has seen an unprecedented number of patients suffering from serious conditions including anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders over the past two years due to the sustained effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This continuous influx of patients—the pandemic within the pandemic, as some have called it—is a leading contributor to emergency room overcrowding, patient boarding, and extended wait times on a national scale. At Beverly Hospital, the primary goals were expanding to meet the needs of patients with behavioral health concerns and advancing the patient experience for all. “The newly expanded unit is already helping us address some of our critical behavioral health capacity challenges,” says Saul Cohen, MD, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Beverly Hospital. “In addition to the benefit of increased capacity, the new unit offers a more therapeutic environment by incorporating a milieu setting.”

The expanded Behavioral Health Pod has been a top priority for the past two years. Fueled by generous challenge gifts made by three North Shore families, the $600,000 goal for the project was achieved successfully. “The need for additional behavioral health resources is at an all-time high, both locally and nationally,” says Chessye Hill Moseley of Wenham, a Philanthropy Committee member and dedicated donor to Beverly Hospital who contributed the lead gift to the Behavioral Health Pod expansion through the Sally Foss Hill and James Scott Hill Foundation. “My intention with this gift was to support the mental well-being of those living right here in my own community, and simultaneously enhance the workspace for the dedicated care team who make all this possible.” The nursing station is named in recognition of this wonderful gift.

Longtime Beverly Hospital donors Lucy and Peter Robbins of Manchester-by-the-Sea contributed for similar reasons. “When we became aware of the impact that the pandemic was having on the hospital and the growing need for behavioral health services, we wanted to do our part,” says Peter. “Making sure the hospital has the necessary space and resources to provide care to all those in need is essential during these difficult times.” 

Staffed by a team of behavioral health specialists, including physicians, nurses, and social workers, the expanded 10-bed Behavioral Health Pod provides a spacious, therapeutic environment. Located just outside the confines of the busy ED, this area enables patients to be evaluated in a quieter space while they await a transfer to an inpatient psychiatric unit or other specialized care facility, if needed.

“Our goal is to always provide high-quality, compassionate care to all those who come through the Emergency Department door,” says Courtney Almond, MBA, BSN, RN, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Emergency Services. “Thanks to the added capacity we now have with the Behavioral Health Pod, we are already shortening wait times, streamlining transitions, and improving the overall patient experience for everyone, and we are so grateful to the donors who made that possible.”

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