FULTON, Mo. — A new era is underway at the Fulton State Hospital in mid-Missouri. The new high-security building, called the Nixon Forensic Center, is now up and running. Nearly 300 patients and more than 500 workers are based out of the mental hospital named after former Governor Jay Nixon. The state says the move took about three days and without any incidents.
The new $211 million location replaces the previous one opened in 1851 – the oldest public mental hospital west of the Mississippi River.
The 300-bed site aims to create a more upbeat and safer environment for the patients, workers and visitors. The location includes a dramatic difference in natural light, wider hallways, a cozy visitation center that is kid-friendly, and the furniture is not easy to pick up and throw. It takes away the institutional feel that many mental hospitals carry. The décor gives the facility more of a private hospital vibe. The lighting fixtures are modern and the ceilings are high.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony in May, Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Mark Stringer said the new hospital has lines of sight that are “1000% better.”
Sound proofing has also stepped up. Noises at the old location echo throughout, creating additional challenges for patients suffering from psychotic disorders who might already hear other voices.
Stringer says the new site should also reduce the amount of overtime the staff is required to work.
The hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Atkinson, said the new facility will be life-changing for its patients and employees and will dramatically improve their quality of life.
Nixon said the old location is a dangerous place and remembers dealing with many legal cases originating at the hospital during his days as Missouri attorney general. Many of those were worker’s comp claims. He calls the new building the finest mental hospital in the United States.
The old location, the Biggs Forensic Center, will be torn down at an undetermined date.