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Graves complicate plans for Eastern State Hospital land

Key --

1. The 68-acre Eastern State Hospital plans to move in two years to a new facility. Work is already under way to determine what should be done with the land near downtown Lexington.

2. More than 10,000 bodies are buried on the property; 4,400 are in the cemetery. The Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Club is in charge of finding these remains and maintaining the current cemetery.

3. In 1984, more than 150 bodies were found during blasting for the Loudon Avenue extension.

4. In 2005, a backhoe operator that was digging a trench for a water main found 11 remains. These will be reburied at the cemetery on Wednesday.

5. Eastern State, at W. Fourth Street and Newtown Pike, is the nation's second-oldest state-run psychiatric hospital. It was established in 1822 as the Lunatic Asylum and opened in 1824.

6. Since 2003, there have been discussions about relocating the hospital. One proposal has it moving to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Leestown Road (which is moving itself). Another has it constructing a new joint Lexington and Louisville mental hospital between the two cities. The current proposal is for the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, a not-for-profit group that operates Eastern State, to build a new hospital on 30 acres within 15 minutes from the current facility.

6a. It may relocate to UK Coldstream Research Park, and UK has been open to the idea.

6b. The new state-of-the-art facility would be able to serve 400 inpatients at a time, 100 more than the current capacity at Eastern State. New specialized programs for veterans and people with substance abuse combined with mental illness are planned.

6c. Eastern State has about 160 patients on a daily basis.

7. It would take 2.5 years to construct the new hospital once the state approves the proposal.

8. Former Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon formed a task force last fall to study possible uses for the land.

Article information: "Graves complicate plans for Eastern State Hospital land, By Michelle Ku, Herald-Leader, Mon, Apr. 09, 2007"

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A new Eastern State is planned: Legislative OK needed for psychiatric facility

By Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 22, 2007

A new state-of-the-art Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital currently located on Newtown Pike at 4th Street, could be completed within the next three years -- depending upon state General Assembly approval. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Bluegrass Regional Mental Health Mental Retardation Board, which operates the facility, signed an agreement yesterday giving Bluegrass Regional $1 million and the authority to move ahead with plans for a new facility. Governor Fletcher pledged that if re-elected in November. money to build a new hospital will be in the 2008 budget request.

The $1 million will go towards employing an architect to finalize designs and getting estimates on construction. Final designs and funding will not be ready until January, when the legislature reconvenes for the 2008 session. Bluegrass Regional took over day-to-day operations in 1995, but the buildings and land are owned by the state. The estimated cost of a new facility was $130 million several years ago, and is likely higher today.

For decades, Eastern State's campus has been crumbling, containing a partially functioning boiler, ancient plumbing, lead paint, asbestos, and exposed wiring. Eastern State Hospital is the second-oldest psychiatric facility in the United States, and the first west of the Appalachian Mountains. It's foundation dates back to the early 1800s. At its peak in the 1940s, Eastern State housed more than 2,000 patients, but that has dwindled to just 150 today. Only three of the more than dozen buildings house patients, and many are abandoned. Some of the buildings at Fourth Street and Newtown Pike date back to the late 1880s; the last major renovation on any building on the campus was in the 1980s.

Over the years, Eastern State has had to close buildings that were no longer being used or no longer safe. A July Herald-Leader investigation found other problems in still-used structures, including asbestos, lead paint, exposed wiring, and poor fire protection systems. Temperatures within the confines vary widely due to a temperamental heating and cooling system.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services did a survey of all of its facilities four years ago and found that Eastern State was obsolete. But issues at Oakwood, the state's largest home for people with mental disabilities, have kept the focus away from Eastern State.

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Research park considered as site for new psychiatric hospital

By Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 22, 2007

A new Eastern State Hospital facility, that could hold as many as 400 beds, could be constructed on 30 acres at Coldstream Research Park off of Newtown Pike. Joseph Toy, the CEO and President of Bluegrass Regional Mental Health Mental Retardation Board, announced Wednesday that he was in discussions with University of Kentucky President Lee Todd about building on the university's research park. It is also near the Bluegrass' regional headquarters.

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Details revealed in plans for new Eastern State

By Beth Musgrave, Lexington Herald-Leader, August 23, 2007

Not that much in the way of new news, but here are the highlights --

* A 30-acre site at the UK Coldstream Research Park would be the likely site. The property is directly behind Bluegrass's administrative offices on Newtown Pike.

* Tentative plans are for a 413-bed facility with units for people with mental illness and substance abuse problems, a geriatric unit, and an acute crisis unit (those who need stabilization but not long-term care). The buildings would look more like a large office complex than a hospital.

* The then-vacant 64-acre Eastern State campus could be reused. A final report has not yet been presented to LFUCG. It is not entirely ideal, however, as there are possibly thousands of unmarked graves. A graveyard was discovered in the 1950s when Eastern State sold land to IBM, and again in the 1980s when Loudon Ave. was extended. More were discovered in 2004 when a new water line was constructed.

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