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Nearly three years after it was first proposed, ground was broken Thursday on a new 72-bed psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf.

At about an hour-long ceremony that included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Strategic Behavioral Health took the first steps toward building the $15 million facility that will serve children, adolescents, adults and senior citizens.

"We are so excited to embed ourselves in this community," Jim Shaheen, the president and founder of the Tennessee-based company, said.

The groundbreaking comes after a hard-fought battle with the Quad-Cities two largest hospitals to gain permission from the state to build the facility. But, while there were a handful of glancing references to the fight for a state certificate of need, many of the remarks were about providing help to people who struggle with mental health and substance abuse issues.

"The region will be gaining another collaborative partner," said Lori Elam, chief executive of the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region, who has been a consistent supporter of Strategic's plan to build here.

Strategic officials said it will take 12 to 18 months to finish construction on the facility. To be called Eagle View Behavioral Health, the hospital is located at 770 Tanglefoot Lane. The company said the hospital will include five units, two courtyards, two classrooms, an on-site pharmacy and private ambulance entrance.

Company officials also pledged to help people navigate the mental health system and provide training in the community.

This will be Strategic's 12th hospital.

The hospital's addition comes as state and local officials are putting more resources into mental health services. The closing of state-run mental health hospitals in other parts of the state and the shift of Medicaid to privately managed care has led to complaints that services have suffered.

However, the state legislature passed and the governor signed a bill last month to expand mental health services across the state, which will include the addition of new access centers, crisis services, residential homes and intervention teams.

"With the opening of Eagle View Behavioral Health today, we're continuing to move in the right direction," Reynolds said in her remarks.

There still are questions about how those mental health services will be funded on an ongoing basis.

In addition, Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health Trinity warned during the certificate of need process that a new provider could undermine their own expanded behavioral health service options.

But on Thursday, Strategic officials and supporters of the new hospital said it would add another piece to the fabric of health care coverage in the area.

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