During a visit to Willmar on Wednesday, Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper stressed the need for legislators to support a proposal to fund a new facility for a state-operated hospital that serves children and teens with complex mental health conditions. Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed $7.53 million to construct a new, 16-bed Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services facility.
“Our staff are caring for kids experiencing significant mental health crises, and who are often physically aggressive, in a building with poor sightlines, dangerous stairways and unsafe bathrooms,” said Piper. “It’s time for lawmakers to support a new facility that is safe and gives our young patients a therapeutic environment for recovery.”
The current leased facility is part of the MinnWest Technology Campus, site of the former Willmar Regional Treatment Center. Piper said the state is working to extend the lease for the site, set to expire in June, but a long-term solution needs to be found.
In addition to addressing problems with stairways and sightlines, the proposed new facility will give the program the flexibility to group patients in units appropriate to their ages or conditions as children are admitted or discharged.
“A new facility is just one piece of what we need to ensure that we’re providing safe, quality care for some of the state’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” Piper said. “We also need additional funding – included in Gov. Dayton’s budget – to continue to staff our facilities appropriately.”
The new Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services facility is one of several projects Dayton has proposed to address safety issues at state-run psychiatric facilities. He has also called for $70.255 million for renovations at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and $2.25 million for security upgrades at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center.