A Pennsylvania-based Fortune 500 is planning to purchase and expand operations of a behavioral health hospital that's been owned by Tucson Medical Center since 1993.

Universal Health Services Inc. has entered into an agreement to purchase Palo Verde Behavioral Health Services, TMC officials said today. The standalone facility has been on the TMC campus since 1984, is licensed for 48 beds, and provides both inpatient and outpatient services.

The sale encompasses the entire operation of services, with TMC to retain ownership of the land and facilities. Universal Health Inc. is expected to expand Palo Verde to include services for children and adolescents, which have been much-needed in Pima County for several years.

“Tucson Medical Center has a long history with Palo Verde and we remain committed to ensuring that the community has the behavioral health services it needs,” Judy Rich, president and CEO of TMC, said in a news release.

“This sale will strengthen the behavioral health services in our community for adults and children.”

Universal Health Services, Inc. is a national company operating more than 196 behavioral health facilities in 37 states, including two in Phoenix.

The 2012 Pima County Community Health Needs Assessment documented that mental health issues are of major concern, including suicide, substance abuse and mental illness.

"Clearly, the demand for behavioral health services is substantial in our community," Rich said.

TMC employees working at Palo Verde will retain their positions under the leadership of Universal Health Services, officials said.

Additionally, TMC will continue to provide ancillary services, such as food service, to the facility. The behavioral health annex in the Emergency Department will be managed by Universal Health Services.

Tucson Medical Center, licensed at more than 600 beds, is a non-profit hospital in the city's central area, at the intersection of Grant and Craycroft roads.

Universal Health Services focuses on owning and operating acute care hospitals, behavioral health centers, surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and radiation oncology centers.

Read more of this story in Thursday's Arizona Daily Star