Beltrami County and Sanford Health break ground on Behavioral Health Crisis Center
First of its kind to provide adult inpatient psychiatric and EmPATH care for adults and adolescents in region
October 14, 2021
BEMIDJI, Minn. – Beltrami County and Sanford Health broke ground on the Sanford Bemidji Behavioral Health Crisis Center Wednesday, Oct. 13. The $6.2 million project is made possible through a partnership between Beltrami County and Sanford Health. The center will be the first of its kind to offer adult inpatient hospital psychiatric beds within 90 miles of Bemidji and the first to feature an Emergency Psychiatric Assessment Treatment and Healing (EmPATH) unit for both adults and children/adolescents in Northwest Minnesota.
Located on Hannah Avenue between the Sanford Health PrimeWest Residential Support Center and the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, the new 12,000-square-foot facility will have eight inpatient hospital beds dedicated to adult psychiatric care. The innovative EmPATH unit will provide adult and adolescent patients outpatient crisis care within a safe, supportive space and with direct access to a multidisciplinary care team allowing for timely improvement.
"For someone who is experiencing a mental or substance use crisis, an ER can be overstimulating and even overwhelming," explained Ashlea McMartin, MS, LPCC, clinical manager of community based mental health services at Sanford Health Bemidji, including the Mobile Crisis Unit and the future Crisis Center. "The EmPATH unit and crisis center will provide an environment that is optimal to deescalate a patient's crisis and help get them the tailored care they need right away."
The center will offer continued assessment, individualized treatment planning, access to multi-disciplinary teams, immediate psychiatric services, collaboration with primary care physicians and access to medical interventions, including outpatient mental health services to meet the patient and their family's needs, collaboration with community services such as social services, law enforcement and community schools-all while remaining in the community.
"We are immensely grateful for our partnership with Beltrami County, the county commissioners, the Department of Health and Sanford Health Foundation donors for this project, including the George W. Neilson Foundation," shared Susan Jarvis, president and CEO of Sanford Health Bemidji. "We look forward to offering patients the care they need close to home and in the best care setting possible."
Partnering with local contractors, the center is designed by EAPC Architects Engineers, and will be constructed over the course of the next year by Kraus-Anderson. Funding for the crisis center is made possible through $3.65 million from the Minnesota Department of Health's Crisis Bond Project grant from and $1.45 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act funding through Beltrami County. The remainder of the project will be funded through philanthropic dollars through the Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota. Donor opportunities are still available for those who would like to contribute toward the project before its opening in late fall 2022.
"There is a statewide and national shortage of psychiatric beds. This can lead to a delay in care and an increased waiting period in the ER prior to transfer to an open inpatient bed across the state," explained James Coughenour, senior director of behavioral health services at Sanford Health Bemidji.
The Sanford Bemidji Medical Center sees on average six mental health patients per day. The average stay in the ER ranges from 2-30 hours. The duration of time spent in the ER is especially long for many patients who require transfer to a different facility or who carry a diagnosis of significant mental illness or substance use disorder.
One of the most important measures of mental health within a community is suicide. Data from the 2019 Sanford Health Community Needs assessment indicated that the suicide rate in the Bemidji area (18 suicides per 100,000 people) is above the comparison group average.
The Sanford Bemidji Mobile Crisis unit saw a 23% increase in encounters during 2019-2020 and an additional 44% increase from 2020-2021. The Bemidji ER sees additional patients in crisis who report directly to the ER for care. In 2020, the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center saw a total of 406 patients in crisis who required inpatient psychiatric care.
"Having these new crisis resources readily available within our area will not only take pressure off of our local ER and hospital, but this collaboration with Sanford will close the gap in much needed services, help keep families together and positively impact those in and around our county for generations to come," expressed Tom Barry, Beltrami County Administrator.
Currently, the closest inpatient psychiatric facility to Bemidji is 90 miles away. When children and their families are needing psychiatric inpatient services, many are placed at a greater distance or out of state due to limited availability.
"This increased distance from loved ones and community support poses several challenges for the patient including decreased and/or delayed chances of recovery," explained Coughenour.
A 2021 study conducted by the University of New Hampshire, Improving Care Transitions for Individuals with Suicide Risk After Discharged from Acute Care, found that the suicide rate during the first week after discharge from an inpatient facility for patients with identified suicide risk history is 300x higher than that of the general population. One out of every 100 suicide attempt survivors will die by suicide within one year of their initial attempt, a risk approximately 100x that of the general population.
"As behavioral health clinicians, we know that the best course of care is staying in the community and continuing family engagement in their treatment to prevent delaying or hindering their recovery," shared McMartin. "Because of this, it is even more important that we have the necessary services and psychiatric providers available locally.
Help is available
The Mobile Crisis Team offers emergency and crisis services. Our team is available 24/7 to help adults and children during a mental health crisis. We can help you over the phone, at your home, in the hospital or wherever you need us.
Call the Mobile Crisis Team at (800) 422-0045.
To reach the Crisis Text Line, text "MN" to 741741. This line confidentially connects you with counselors who are trained to respond to crisis situations. Counselors will help defuse the crisis and connect you to local resources. The text line is free of charge and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
About Sanford Health
Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 46 hospitals, 1,500 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and 10 countries. Learn more about Sanford Health's transformative work to improve the human condition at sanfordhealth.org or Sanford Health News.