Grant Will Expand Mental Health Services in Chippewa Valley
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph hospitals add full adolescent unit for inpatient behavioral health services
Gov. Tony Evers recently signed a state budget that allocates $15 million to provide more psychiatric beds in the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls region.
“Western Wisconsin had an unmet demand with behavior health,” said Toni Simonson, the executive director of behavioral health for the two local HSHS hospitals. “With beds at capacity, many would have to go to facilities so far away that it made family visits harder on patients.”
Eighteen beds will be added to HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls and four beds are being added to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital’s in-patient wing. The plan for St. Joseph is to construct a full unit of 18 beds for adolescent inpatient behavioral health services, which would prevent hospitals from being forced to send children to far-away locations because beds are full. Sacred Heart will still retain the inpatient services for adults but – due to the space for adolescents’ moving to St. Joseph – there is more space for adults with the addition of four beds to the space.
The pandemic has increased incidences of mental health crises both locally and nationally, and having a place close to home – rather than on the other side of the state – alleviates potential homesickness, which can lead to additional distress. Dual occupancy opened back up in November 2020, bringing more people back in the area for inpatient services.
Simonson is hopeful for what an expansion like this will bring to the Chippewa Valley, as there is a desperate need for mental health services. Services at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital will remain open through construction, though a completion date is not known at this time.
Read more about the grant on the Hospital Sisters Health System website.