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INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers driving past the towering glass-walled building, featuring the letters "NDI" on the front, easily could mistake it for a new corporate headquarters on the up-and-coming east side of Indiana's capital city.

It certainly doesn't look like a state-run psychiatric hospital.

But the NeuroDiagnostic Institute is, in fact, Indiana's first new state hospital in 53 years focused on treating complex mental illnesses; chronic addiction; intellectual disabilities, including children with autism; traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease.

"This beautiful, new facility represents our state's renewed and focused commitment to mental health," said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

"This state-of-the-art hospital will take advantage of the most recent advances in brain research and clinical care to optimize the quality of care and diagnoses for all Hoosiers with severe psychiatric illnesses."

On Friday, Walthall was joined by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch; Dr. Jerry Sheward, NDI chief medical officer, and other state government and medical dignitaries to cut the ribbon on the $118 million, 159-bed facility.

Inside, seemingly every detail is focused on ensuring patient safety, providing effective treatment and creating a calm environment.

For example, the door handles, showers, sinks and even hallway railings are designed in a way to prevent patients from attempting to hang themselves.

Windows are inaccessible, televisions are behind thick glass, the fluid-impervious furniture is largely immobile and there is no framed art to rip off the walls.

Instead, huge murals featuring different Indiana landscapes are wallpapered outside the rooms on each floor.

Multiple locked doors, limited access elevators and more than 600 security cameras also ensure patients stay put to receive the very latest in mental health care, including electroconvulsive therapy, infusion therapy and genetic testing, among other services.

At the same time, the lighting throughout the facility mimics the colors of daylight and continuously changes over the course of 24 hours to nearly match the outside world.

After all, the NDI is intended to take patients referred by or committed from community mental health centers, other state psychiatric hospitals and the state court system, identify their conditions, plan a treatment strategy and return them to a local facility that can meet their ongoing mental health needs.

"Ensuring that all Hoosiers who are suffering from mental illnesses, addiction or an intellectual/developmental disability receive top-quality care is one of the priorities of the administration," Crouch said.

"Helping these individuals either recover, or learn to live independently will benefit the state as a whole, and I am inspired by the work NDI and FSSA have put forth to make this a reality."

Walthall said she is particularly proud that multiple floors of the NDI, containing 65 beds, are reserved for treating adolescents and children.

"I'm most excited about our autism unit," she said. "It will be one of very few of its kind, less than 100 beds across the entire United States, that do behavioral stabilization for autism."

"Many states are backing away from psychiatric care, and we're plowing forward. We think it's a huge commitment and a real need that goes unmet that we can't walk away from."

The NDI is located adjacent to Community East Hospital, which has agreed to provide any acute care services required by NDI patients and to share its food service facilities.

The proposed 2020-21 state budget currently under review by the General Assembly appropriates about $34 million a year to operate the NDI, which is replacing the Larue Carter Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis that's being phased out of service.

Indiana's state-run mental health network also includes psychiatric hospitals in Logansport, Evansville, Richmond and Madison.


Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.