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HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s one step closer to adding mental health beds

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:48 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) has officially secured the $15 million in state government funding to add 22 new mental health treatment beds to its Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph’s hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

Wednesday, the Wisconsin State Building Commission voted to release the $15 million allocated in the most recent state budget to the hospital system for the project.

The hospitals’ Behavioral Health Executive Director Toni Simonson said the state will reimburse the hospital as it spends on construction up to $15 million.

She added Wednesday’s vote allows the project to move forward.

“We weren’t able to move forward with any of our plans for the design with the architects until we had assurance that the money was actually going to be able to be released to us,” Simonson said.

She said HSHS will now work with architects to design and build 22 new beds at both hospitals.

Sacred Heart currently has 29 beds serving both adolescents and adults. Saint Joseph’s doesn’t have any mental health treatment beds.

“We have adolescent beds there, eight, and adult beds there, 21, for a total of 29,” Simonson said. “Our plan is to convert that unit into a full adult unit, adding four beds there so that will be 33 beds there at Sacred Heart.”

The hospital system will also build an 18-bed adolescent unit at St. Joseph’s.

State Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, helped secure the $15 million from the state.

She said the investment not only benefits the patients, it’s good deal for the taxpayers.

“The win-win here is we have a one-time investment to HSHS to build the beds,” Bernier said. “They will build it, they create a system, they will get it up and running and then take it from there so there’s not ongoing costs.”

She added the biggest winners, however, are the patients.

“The family members and the patients from this area of the state can now have their loved-ones closer to them and help them through a very rough time,” Bernier said.

Currently, patients have to be transported to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh if there are no mental health treatment beds available locally.

Simonson said she’s not sure when the project will be completed. She’ll have a better idea of the timeline within the next few months.

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