Holly Hill Hospital to add 32 more beds; has added 60 beds since 2015.

Holly Hill Hospital has begun planning a $15 million expansion to add 32 psychiatric beds next year.

The Raleigh psychiatric hospital received state approval to add the extra beds Aug. 9, and expects to have the beds ready by Dec. 1, 2017. The expansion will increase Holly Hill’s capacity from 228 beds to 260 – 172 adult psychiatric beds and 60 beds for children and adolescents.

The expansion will come to 108 beds Holly Hill has added since 2013. The new beds will be housed in a 3-story building about a half mile from the main campus of the hospital, which opened in the early 1980s.

The shortage of psychiatric beds has been a chronic problem in the state and also nationwide. In its application for a certificate of need, or CON, Holly Hill officials said the extra beds are urgently needed to reduce patient wait times in hospital emergency rooms.

“Instead of languishing in an emergency department or observation unit, psychiatric patients can be appropriately admitted to an inpatient bed in a timelier manner,” Holly Hill said.

Holly Hill’s application noted the total number of state-operated psychiatric beds in North Carolina fell from 1,755 in 2001 to 812 in 2014. Meanwhile, population growth has created greater demand for the shrinking services.

Holly Hill previously added 23 beds in January, 37 beds in 2015 and 16 beds in 2013. Last year, Holly Hill had to turn away 3,754 adult patients because the hospital was filled to capacity.

The Division of Health Service Regulation, within the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, requires health care providers to receive state approval for a new healthcare facility.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski