July 23, 2008

Laureate Psychiatric Clinic in Tulsa Undergoing $12M Expansion

By Heather Caliendo

The Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital, part of Saint Francis Health System, is undergoing a $12 million expansion of its now 19,000-square-foot research center.

The clinic recently completed the $11.6 million first floor of the center.

Four floors and an additional parking garage deck will be added and officials anticipate construction to be complete next summer. The architect is Page Southerland Page of Dallas and the contractor is Cowen Construction Co.

John Robson, executive director of operations, said the expansion allows the facility to offer new technology in the building they weren't able to accommodate previously.

The center features an advanced MRI for studies of the brain's function. Robson said the MRI works essentially like a movie camera and measures changes in the brain as it undergoes activities. Laureate is the only facility in the state with this kind of technology, he said.

"It's a special kind of MRI that measures real time and that is the primary reason for occupying the new building," said Robson.

"This kind of technology and personnel hiring will put Laureate in very good company in that regard."

The center also features laboratory facilities, office space for research investigators, plus staff and exam rooms. Robson anticipates the new facility will hire 20 additional employees in the research and technician areas.

In the past five years, Laureate has seen 40-percent growth and Robson said the center will allow them to accommodate even more patients.

"There is a tremendous amount of unmet need for psychiatric care," he said. "We believe people are seeking treatment more readily then they did a decade ago - the stigma is starting to lift."

Laureate offers evaluation and treatment for the full spectrum of psychiatric disorders as well as outpatient treatment.

Robson said many hospitals in the city have either closed or have reduced their psychiatric care to a small unit in the hospital. Laureate is the only free-standing facility in Tulsa and sits on 47 acres.

The Warren K. Foundation established Laureate in 1988 and Robson said the Warren family chose to build a separate facility in hopes of becoming a national leader in the field.

"With having a retreat-like atmosphere it is unusual for a psychiatric facility," he said. "But we have been successful in hiring top-notch physicians and psychologists to build the programs where they are today."

Originally published by Heather Caliendo.

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