New "Eastern State" Ready To Replace 185 Year Old Namesake

Sep 4, 2013

Governor Steve Beshear on a public tour of Lexington's new Eastern State Hospital.
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Nearly 200 years of history is about to end at Lexington’s Eastern State Hospital.  It’s old facility now stands almost vacant, replaced by a 129- million dollar psychiatric hospital. Chief Medical Officer Allen Brenzel led a group that included Kentucky’s Governor, social workers, and advocates for the mentally ill.  In addition to the modern amenities, Brenzel says the newest techniques in care giving will be applied at the 239 bed facility.

“We’re creating a philosophy which minimizes coersive methodologies, so we don’t and strive not to use seclusion and restraint in our care, we strive to use other earlier interventions that might allow a person to have more choices,” said Brenzel.

During the planning stages, a major push for a completely new Eastern State Hospital came from relatives of its patients.  President Marcie Timmerman is with the Lexington chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“It’s gonna give them a little more self confidence when they come in the door.  You feel a little more at ease, a little more patient.  Just the general atmosphere here is more calming than the old one.  I think having the recovery mall even better than it used to be, it’s gonna be important for them in the long run, understanding how to get back in the community.  How to get back to their life, once they’re stabilized,” added Timmerman.

With all the celebration, there was also a note of caution raised by University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto.  He worries federal cuts in National Institute of Health Funding could slow research into new medications and treatments for mentally ill Kentuckians.

"We’re gonna invisibly loose a generation of discovery and a generation of talent that depends on this funding to provide break throughs for this country,” said Capilouto.

In addition to in-patient care, the Eastern State Complex also includes three long term care homes and specialized treatment for patients with brain injuries.  The first patients arrive next week.