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New mental health hospital gets approval from Minnesota authorities

The project, a partnership between Fairview Health Services and Tennesee-based Acadia Healthcare, will be on the site of the former Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, and will serve adults requiring long term mental health care.

Minnesota Department of Health logo.jpg
Minnesota Department of Health logo
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Citing a bed capacity crisis, the Minnesota Department of Health on Monday, Sept. 12. announced the creation of a 144-bed, freestanding mental health hospital in St. Paul.

The announcement clears the way for a joint project between Fairview Health Services and Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare, a large provider with 39 behavioral health facilities, maintaining over 10,000 beds in 39 states and Puerto Rico.

The facility, which will serve adults and older adults, is slated to open in 2023 on the site of the former Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul.

In addition to using the services of psychiatrists and nurse practitioners, the facility will staff internal medicine doctors and primary care teams in order to address a host of physical conditions that can accompany acute psychiatric episodes.

“The public review of this proposal shows how much need there is for additional mental health beds in Minnesota,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “As we seek to address the acute shortage we are facing, we hope this review highlights the need for policy makers, health care organizations, mental health care providers, employers and insurers, and patients to work on solutions to fully meet the state’s mental health needs."

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The state health department said that the facility will not have an emergency room, preventing it from taking some people in acute crisis. The announcement also noted that a period for public comment included concerns that the facility will have a leaner staff than many such hospitals, use the for-profit Acadia Healthcare, and that state needs still call for full service capacity for persons requiring long term care for their mental health.

In a statement, the health department said that a key element of the approval "was the recognition that the Minnesota Legislature expects close, ongoing scrutiny of how the new facility will impact care delivery and the economics of inpatient mental health services in the community." Health officials further said the department "has been directed to monitor patient and payer mix, transfers and patient flow for inpatient mental health care in the state."

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Paul John Scott is the health reporter for NewsMD and the Rochester Post Bulletin. He is a novelist and was an award-winning magazine journalist for 15 years prior to joining the FNS in 2019.
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