An expansion under construction will allow Valley Behavioral Health System in Barling to provide services to 40 additional patients once complete.

During a luncheon in Fort Smith Thursday, Beverly Wilborn, director of business development for Valley Behavioral Health, outlined the expansion and health services provided at their facility in Barling.

Valley Behavioral Health services Crawford County and the surrounding area.

"On the one hand, it’s great that we can get those beds and provide services to 40 more people," Wilborn said. "On the other hand, it’s sad that we actually need those beds."

Valley Behavioral Health operates under Acadia Healthcare, and Wilborn said the expansion came about because they had a constant waiting list and patients that had to be recommended to other facilities for outpatient care.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment services for all ages struggling with depression, bipolar, mental heath illnesses and behavioral issues are provided at the Barling facility.

Wilborn said the two-story expansion will provide six classrooms and storage for records on the bottom floor, and 40 patient rooms on the upper floor. The clinic currently has 75 patient beds, she said.

Classrooms also will be fitted with the most up-to-date teaching technology, Wilborn said.

Construction began in August, and is expected to be completed the end of April, Wilborn said.

Luncheon attendees also had the opportunity to meet administrators for the behavioral health group, including Anthony Walters, chief executive officer; Paul Irvin, chief financial officer; Cynthia Ellis, director of nursing; Crystal Lougin, clinical director; and Dr. Richard Livingston, children’s psychiatrist and medical director.

Walters is a recent addition as CEO, and Irvin, who has been in place for several months, is the group’s first in-house CFO, Wilborn said.

"The expansion, I think, is going to allow us to treat some individuals that otherwise might not be served," Walter said.

He added that the staff planned to "focus on best practices clinically and best services internally."

An open house is planned once the expansion is complete, Wilborn said.