Cambridge Health Alliance Announces Plan to Expand Inpatient Psychiatry


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), a community health system serving Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities and one of the region’s leading providers of behavioral and mental health care, is partnering with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to expand inpatient psychiatric care in the region. The plan, approved today by CHA’s Board of Trustees, grows inpatient capacity by 64 beds at CHA and includes new services to address the needs of special populations who are at high-risk and identified as priorities by the state.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing needs, emergency department boarding rates for behavioral health patients have increased across the region. Additionally, a community needs assessment led by CHA in collaboration with the City of Somerville has identified mental health/substance use as the top priority for our patients, the city’s residents and people throughout the state. Expanding inpatient psychiatry capacity will help CHA confront this public health emergency in areas where CHA is recognized as a leading behavioral healthcare resource.

CHA will add 42 new child, adolescent and specialized autism spectrum/neurodevelopmental beds at its Somerville Campus, bringing CHA’s capacity to 69 youth beds. The new CHA Center of Excellence for Child and Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Care at Somerville will provide a transformative continuum of patient- and family-centered care for diverse youth with mental health needs. The Center will also provide unique opportunities for training and research at CHA to identify when, where and how to positively impact trajectories of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable youth.

In addition, CHA will convert two units at CHA Cambridge Hospital into adult units with 22 beds, increasing the total adult bed capacity to 62. Eight of these beds will be designed to treat high-acuity adult patients who often face challenges getting placed at facilities across the region. CHA currently operates a 22-bed geriatric unit and a 22-bed adult unit at CHA Everett Hospital.

"Cambridge Health Alliance’s planned CHA Center of Excellence for Child and Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Care and expanded inpatient care for adults will offer high-quality, innovative services responsive to the mental health needs of families, our communities and the region," said Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance. "We are excited to partner with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to meet the urgent, statewide demand for inpatient behavioral health care."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need and urgency to increase psychiatric inpatient capacity across the state," said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services and COVID-19 Command Center Director. "Once again, Cambridge Health Alliance has stepped up to meet the health needs of the community, and in particular children with complex behavioral health needs."

CHA will continue to work closely with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to develop, implement and expedite this plan. It will also collaborate with the City of Somerville, its neighbors and other community stakeholders over the coming months.