New Funding for More Mental Health Beds

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(WLAX/WEUX) – HSHS Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph’s hospitals will be adding 22 mental health beds to their facilities.

Yesterday, the state building commission voted to release 15- million dollars to fund the project.

HSHS has officially secured the state dollars necessary to add 22 mental health beds to its Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph’s hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

The hospitals’ behavioral health executive director Toni Simonson says this clears the way for the project to move forward.

“We, you know, weren’t able to move forward with any of our plans for the design with the architects until we had assurance that the money was actually going to, you know, be able to be released to us.” Said Simonson.

Now she says HSHS will work with architects to build the units at both hospitals.

Currently, Sacred Heart has 29 beds.

Saint Joseph’s doesn’t have any beds specifically for mental health patients.

Simonson said, “We have adolescent beds there, eight, and adult beds there, 21, for a total of 29. our plan is to convert that unit into a full adult unit, adding four beds there so that will be 33 beds there at sacred heart.”

The hospital system will also build an 18-bed adolescent mental health treatment unit at Saint Joseph’s.

State senator Kathy Bernier helped secure the 15 million dollars in the most recent state budget.

She says the investment not only benefits patients, it’s a good deal for taxpayers.

“The win-win here is we have a one-time investment to HSHS to build the beds. They will build it, they create a system, they will get it up and running and then take it from there so there’s not ongoing costs.” Said Bernier.

But Bernier says the deal’s biggest winners are the patients.

“The family members and the patients from this area of the state can now have their loved ones closer to them and help them through a very rough time.”

Right now, any patients must go to a facility in Oshkosh to receive treatment due to a lack of mental health beds locally.

Simonson says she’s not sure when the project will be complete.

The hospital should have a better idea of its timeline within the next few months. 

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