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HARLINGEN, RGV – A Palms Behavioral Health hospital has opened in the Rio Grande Valley. The hospital is centered in Harlingen and specializes in mental illnesses and substance abuse care.

Palms Behavioral is part of Strategic Behavioral Health, which has various locations across the country.

Jim Shaheen
Jim Shaheen

“We are excited to be part of the community and look forward to being here for many, many years,” Jim Shaheen, founder and president of Strategic Behavioral Health said.

The Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce and Palms Behavioral Health celebrated the clinic’s inauguration on Monday, August 1 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was held at their new facility in 613 Victoria Lane, Harlingen. From 9 .am. to 6 p.m. it offered tours, food, and prizes to the public. Many notable figures attened the ceremony. In addition to Shaeen, speakers at the event included the Director of Business Development for Palms Behavioral Health, Bobby Molina; CEO of Palms Behavioral Health, Michael Sauceda; CEO of Driscoll Health Plan, Mary Dale Peterson, M.D.; Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell; state Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Chris Gonzales.

Shaheen said the hospital’s mission is to provide the highest quality of behavioral healthcare to patients and families. The facility provides a treatment team that consists of an attending psychiatrist, a licensed Registered Nurse, a mental health therapist, and other staff. The 63,000 square-foot facility will start with 68 employees and has 98 beds. There are inpatient and outpatient programs, but there are many other specialized programs that admit patients based on age and treatment needed.

“I have gone above and beyond to make sure I’ve put together a seasoned well rounded team that will be able to meet the needs of our patients,” Sauceda said.

Healthcare leaders in the Valley believe the facility will help expand sub-specialty care throughout the region. Cameron County in particular has lacked many of the sub-specialists found in other parts of the state. Interviewed by the Rio Grande Guardian, Dr. Francisco Fernandez, former dean of UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, said that “when you start doing specialty programming for the needs of sub-populations, that really goes a long way and that’s what we’re hoping that will continue to flourish here and beyond.”

The clinic is receiving a lot of attention precisely because it will increase the number of sub-specialty health practicioners in the Valley, Fernandez explained. Shaheen agreed.

“Well there’s such a need for mental health and substance abuse treatment in the community. There is such a need for additional care; this is an inpatient hospital that’ll take care of children, adolescents, adults, seniors. The Rio Grande Valley has been lacking a number of beds to which to do that, in fact folks have been having to travel great distances to get additional care,” Shaheen added.

Editor’s note: Photos provided by Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce and RGG/Apol Sandoval.

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