Human Services Acting Commissioner Chuck Johnson and Department of Administration Commissioner Matt Massman visited the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center today to highlight the importance of improving and maintaining aging care and treatment facilities for people with mental illness, disabilities and chemical dependency.
Governor Mark Dayton’s 2018 public works bill
includes $63.4 million for improvements at treatment facilities operated by the Department of Human Services. The funding would finance renovation and new construction projects to shore up buildings in urgent need of repairs, improve treatment and safety, and help the agency comply with court-ordered transfers of sex offenders.
“This investment will allow us to make long-overdue repairs to psychiatric hospitals, group homes for people with disabilities and many other facilities that care for more than 12,000 vulnerable Minnesotans every year,” Johnson said. “These facilities are critical to our mission and our ability to serve patients and clients, and right now we have too many crises to count. We just can’t afford to put off basic improvements any longer.”
The proposal’s single largest request is for $18.62 million, to address the most urgent maintenance problems. The work includes replacing roofs, windows, doors and exterior walls; upgrading heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; electrical and plumbing improvements; and tuck-pointing and paving. This funding will allow the agency to do some of the necessary work on DHS’s nearly 200 care and treatment facilities. Because repairs have not been adequately funded in the past, completing all of the work needed would cost $136.9 million.
The governor’s public works recommendations make tackling deferred maintenance at all state facilities a top priority. Noting that it is far more costly to repair buildings and other infrastructure once they fall into poor condition, Commissioner Massman said the fiscally responsible approach is to fix problems before they become a crisis.
“It is simple common sense that fixing a leaking roof sooner rather than later is better for the house and the wallet,” Massman said. “Governor Dayton’s public works proposal would make commonsense investments to repair aging public buildings in the St. Peter and Mankato area and across Minnesota before the problems and price tag get even worse.”
In addition to asset preservation funding, the governor’s public works recommendations for DHS also include:
- $16.19 million to remodel three buildings on the St. Peter campus for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. The plan provides new program space and adds 50 new beds for Community Preparation Services, a less restrictive setting for clients in the later stages of treatment. The new beds will make it possible for MSOP to comply with a growing number of court orders to move clients into CPS.
- $13.88 million to design and construct two secure assisted-living facilities on the St. Peter campus for MSOP clients who have been provisionally discharged by the courts but have age-related or medical conditions and cannot live on their own without help.
- $2.2 million to install new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment and bring the electrical system up to current standards in the dietary services building in the St. Peter campus. Staff who work in the 50-year-old facility prepare about 730,000 meals annually for patients and clients.
- $5.79 million to design and remodel vacant space for a specialized admissions unit to evaluate new patients at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center. The project also includes a small crisis unit for patients whose behavior may be disruptive.
- $6.75 million for extensive roof replacement and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning and other repairs at AMRTC.