Lawmakers and law enforcement push for more mental health beds

Local News

Local law enforcement officials and legislators are working on a bill to expand mental health treatment in Northwest Wisconsin.

If passed, Assembly Bill 443 would add about 22 mental health beds to HSHS hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

It asks for about $15 million in funding from the building commission.

Right now, mental health crisis can mean being transported hours away to get treatment.

Altoona police chief Kelly Bakken testified in support of the bill.

“Having a mental health facility closer that has enough beds to accommodate some of these people from our areas and from our regions will allow those mental health patients to more quickly get that treatment it’s not going to be tying up our officers as long it will allow them to be by their support system,” said Chief Bakken.

With this bill, priority for beds would be given to patients in emergency detention who are from northwest Wisconsin.

The bill will have to be passed by the house and the senate and approved by gov. Evers before it becomes law.

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