Friday, February 19, 2010
By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS — Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare broke ground Wednesday for a $10.3 million corporate center on Kannapolis Parkway.
The new facility will put all Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare employees, now spread between five locations in Concord, under one roof.
Construction should begin March 1 and take about a year.
Piedmont Behavioral offers mental health, development disability and substance abuse services in Cabarrus, Davidson, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties through a network of providers.
The managed-care company hopes to foster a relationship with the nearby N.C. Research Campus, a $1.5 billion life sciences complex in Kannapolis focused on health, nutrition and agriculture research.
"As we were planning, we wanted to be thoughtful about our proximity to the Research Campus and any opportunities to collaborate with them on future projects," said Steve Tomlinson, director of community relations and provider network.
Tomlinson predicted that the Kannapolis Parkway would interest other allied health programs looking to expand or build.
Piedmont Behavioral's new 70,000-square-foot building will cut costs by reducing rent and allowing staff to use technology more effectively, said Dan Coughlin, chief executive officer.
Productivity suffers when staff must move from site to site, Tomlinson said.
"Being in one building will allow for greater productivity and efficiency of time and resources," he said.
While Piedmont Behavioral will not deliver services in the new building — the organization contracts with a network of service providers — consumers and their families still will have access to the facility.
The new building will feature a training center for use by both providers and consumers. The training center "will result in substantial cost savings" by allowing onsite training to ensure that providers offer evidence-based practices, Coughlin said.
"Many may be unaware of how involved consumers and families are in our business model," Tomlinson said.
Piedmont Behavioral has a Consumer and Family Advisory Council that has input into practices that effect services. The advisory council will have a small office in the new facility.
Now, Piedmont Behavioral must rent space for groups larger than 20 people.
The training center will be set up like a hotel banquet suite, Tomlinson said. The flexible space will accommodate workshops and conferences with 300-plus participants or smaller, simultaneous meetings of six to 60 people.
While the agency's current administration costs are lower than the national norm, Tomlinson said the onsite training center will further cut costs.
Entasis Design in Kannapolis worked with Piedmont Behavioral staff to design the building from the inside out to make sure the space would accommodate future growth and encourage collaboration between departments.
General contractor for the project is Edifice in Charlotte.
Piedmont Behavioral will pay for most of the building's construction with money from its fund balance, said Niels Eskelsen, chief financial officer. A bank loan will pay the remainder, and "that loan will be serviced by savings on our current leased office space," he said.
Piedmont Behavioral operates under a pilot Medicaid waiver that allows the agency to offer prepaid behavioral health-care services funded by Medicaid and the state.
These services are delivered through a closed network of contracted provider agencies and licensed practitioners.
Serving an area with a population of 700,000, Piedmont Behavioral is one of the largest multi-county programs in North Carolina.