BERN TWP., Pa. - The new Tower Behavioral Health center in Bern Township is servicing adults in a general psychiatric unit and will offer services for children and adolescents next year. The pandemic proved to be an obstacle to opening.

"It's definitely a unique time to be opening a facility," said Tower Behavioral Health CEO Stephanie Lee. "We faced a lot of challenges along the way and a lot of delays because of that."

The center consists of six, 24-bed units, and two of the six are expected to be fully up and running by the end of this year. It currently has a staff of 60.

Tower Health representatives said the need is there, judging by averages from nearby Reading Hospital.

"About 200 patients per month present to their emergency services with a primary complaint of a psychiatric disorder, and 200 of those patients are referred to acute inpatient psychiatric services," Lee explained.

The announcement of the center was met with a lot of push-back from those who live in the surrounding area, but those at the facility said they have made efforts to include the community in the process.

"We established a community advisory council, and this council is made up of Bern Township community members Bern Township supervisors," Lee said. "We have organizations both in the behavioral health field and in other fields that sit on that board."

Tower Health staff also plans to hold educational events in the near future to help reduce what it said is a stigma involving mental health.

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