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story.lead_photo.caption A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned next week at Fulton State Hospital, before patients move in. Photo by Jenny Gray / Fulton Sun.

After three years and $145 million in construction, the Nixon Forensics Center is ready to start celebrating.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Fulton State Hospital's new housing facility is planned at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

"The patients are getting more and more excited," said Andy Atkinson, FSH chief operating officer, on Thursday. "We're looking at moving in in July. There are still a few close-out projects, but they're mostly cosmetic."

The new facility will house up to 300 patients in 12 residential wings Atkinson described as state of the art.

"It's beautiful," he said. "There's a lot of natural light, clear line of sight and few corners. It's much safer. The space for treatment opportunities is a lot more than what we currently have."

Patient amenities include outdoor recreation and mindfulness areas, media centers, exercise facilities and a library. There's even what he termed a "treatment mall," where patients can shop for clothes, get haircuts and order food.

"It's a definite improvement in the quality of living," Atkinson said.

Employees have worked hard at preparing patients in order to ease the transition, he said.

"We've been doing as many videos and updates as we can and we take that over to show them," he said. "We also do FAQs, as questions come up. I think they're getting excited and anxious to get over there."

Employees are also preparing for the transition.

"We have about 700 staff that are going to be working in this building that we have to train on all of our camera systems and door control systems," Atkinson said. "We're in the process of getting everyone trained up and just learning their way around."

Past and present emplyeees had the chance to tour the giant facility in April. About 1,200 people attended the event, Atkinson said.

"We got a lot of very good, positive feedback," he said.

Politicians including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, state Sen. Jeanie Riddle and state Rep. Travis Fitzwater will speak at Wednesday's ceremony, as will Missouri Department of Mental Health employees.

Former Gov. Jay Nixon, who pushed to approve the $211 million in initial funding for the entire FSH revamp in 2014, will also be in attendance, Atkinson said.

A public open house is planned from noon-8 p.m. June 5. Curious members of the public will be able to explore the new campus and facility. FSH will also host a job fair during the open house.

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