Christmas came early for Mat-Su Regional on Monday after the state approved the hospital's request to add 36 more substance abuse treatment beds. 

Mat-Su Regional Medical Center applied for the Certificate of Need (CON) to add more treatment beds to the facility in June, but wasn't expecting to hear a decision until mid-December, Alan Craft, spokesperson for Mat-Su Regional wrote in a release.

“We now begin the design development phase of the project, which consists of defining and describing all the important aspects of the space, its form and function, fine-tuning its features and furnishings and what the finished product will look like,” said Dave Wallace, chief executive officer of Mat-Su Regional, noting the design development phase will likely take four-to-six months.

The 36 inpatient beds will be for adults needing substance abuse treatment or psychiatric care -- something the Mat-Su Borough currently does not have, Craft wrote. 

“This initiative was not hospital-driven. It was a grassroots effort based on the critical need our community is facing,” Wallace said. “Advocates from across the entire socio-economic spectrum came together in support of this project.”

The project is part of new construction on the hospital's main campus in Palmer. 

"The behavioral health project will be an additional structure geographically positioned near the emergency department," Craft said. "Its footprint will be approximately 28,000 square feet with an estimated cost of $19.3 million. The completion date is projected for the fourth quarter of 2020."

Wallace said the third floor is a separate project which is slated to commence early 2018. It will add approximately 52 beds for general medical-surgical care and take about nine months to complete. 

Both projects are part of an overall campus expansion that's estimated to cost nearly $90 million. That includes the second medical office building (MOBII) which will add 40,000 square feet of medical office space to the Palmer campus. That project broke ground in late August. Other areas of the hospital will receive upgrades as part of the expansion. 

“We are entering a season of phenomenal growth and it’s an exciting time to be a member of the Mat-Su Regional team,” said Wallace. “The behavioral health project will truly be a blessing and a lifeline to so many of our friends and neighbors who are suffering from the devastation and fallout of not having adequate care available for behavioral health.”

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