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Leasing Soon: Space At Arizona's State Hospital

Arizona’s State Hospital uses only a fraction of its 93-acre Phoenix campus for patients who receive court ordered care.

Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a law that will open the facility to new health-care providers.

“We have great needs for behavioral health services,” said Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ of Arizona.  “We could help contribute to that by establishing what we would like to call a Psychiatric Campus of Excellence and offer the the entire continuum of behavioral health services at one centrally located space.”

The 93-acre State Hospital campus is located near downtown Phoenix on Van Buren and 24th streets.

There are dozens of empty beds, unused buildings and open space. DHS needed legislative approval to lease the land to private contractors.

“It’s trust land that is only allowed to be used for the benefit to Arizona’s mentally ill population,” Christ said.

In a January interview with the Associated Press, Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, supported the proposal.

"I think the idea is really forward-thinking," Carter said. "And I applaud our agencies for thinking entrepreneurial about how to make highest and best use of the land. That's prime real estate, and it has a clearly articulated purpose to serve our Arizona citizens."

At any one time, the State Hospital has about 300 patients split into three units: patients with mental illness who are receiving court ordered treatment, patients who have committed a crime and were found non-guilty by reason of insanity guilty except insane, and sex offenders.

Christ said the goal of the new law is to expand behavioral health services available to the general population, not replace existing care.

“We’re not looking to privatize the state hospital services,” Christ said.

Examples of services that might be available to the public in the future include outpatient psychiatric and psychological services, inpatient facilities and substance-abuse counseling.

Money earned from the leases to private practices will go back into maintaining the State Hospital, Christ said.

The law will go into effect in August. In the meantime, DHS will develop a request for proposals that outlines specific services that would be eligible to become part of the campus.

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.