The addition of 144 beds for treating psychiatric patients and those battling substance abuse was hailed last week during an open house for Sun Behavioral Columbus.

Representatives of New Jersey-based Sun Behavioral Health welcomed nearby residents and members of the mental health, substance abuse and medical community to the transformed former Clarion Hotel and Suites Conference Center at 900 E. Dublin-Granville Road on Oct. 10.

Joe Murphy, chief executive officer for the Columbus facility, said research conducted by Sun Behavioral showed that central Ohio had at least a 500-bed shortage for those suffering from mental illness and addiction disorders.

Although the former hotel is in Columbus and a parking variance request came before the Northland Community Council's development committee in June 2015, there was a distinctly Worthington flavor to the ribbon-cutting ceremony that preceded tours of the facility.

Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kathryn Paugh was in charge of the introductions. She said Sun Behavioral Columbus had joined the chamber and she welcomed the hospital to the business community "and more importantly, our health community."

"It's a silly millimeter outside Worthington, but mental health knows no boundaries," Paugh said.

"We are grateful for the welcome and support the hospital has received from the Columbus community," Murphy said. "I think we've got one of the best clinical teams in Columbus, Ohio, and I don't say that because I'm biased, although I am."

Murphy said Sun Behavioral Columbus, which will employ more than 200 people, will offer "robust outpatient services," in addition to being able to accommodate 144 patients.

"This is an issue of the greater community," Worthington Mayor Scott Holmes said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, on hand for the ribbon-cutting, said he began his career as an assistant in the Greene County Prosecutor's Office at age 25, and was surprised at how many people with mental health problems came before him almost daily.

"We really had no ability to deal with it," he said.

DeWine, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, said there are lots of unmet needs for addicts and the mentally ill, but he was glad to see Sun Behavioral "meet some of them."

"We're delighted to have you almost in Worthington and in central Ohio," DeWine said.