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Smaller new mental health facility

Published (4/25/2008)
By Patty Ostberg
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A proposal for a psychiatric hospital in Woodbury has been scaled back.

Rep. Marsha Swails (DFL-Woodbury) sponsors HF3539 that would allow for the construction of a specialty psychiatric hospital in Woodbury. Initially the bill called for 144 new beds, but was scaled back to 66 beds before being approved by the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division April 22.

The scope of patients to be served was also changed from adults and children to only those under age 21 on the date of admission. The facility would be subject to the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare certification. The change is to address previous concerns about additional state costs that a larger facility would create.

Health care plans continually expand and provide high-profit margin services, but neglect those that bring in fewer dollars, like mental health, Swails said. She noted that hospitals in the Twin Cities metropolitan area have increased cardiac services capacity to about 160 percent of the national average. Because of fewer services, children in the state are continually transferred far from home or out of state for mental health services, she said.

The Department of Health believes the new facility would not be in the public’s best interest. The interest review report says providing more hospital beds might not translate into better access or services, said James Golden, director of the Health Policy Division.

The supply and demand for beds results in 10 percent of adults and 10 percent of adolescents going to Greater Minnesota for help, said Rep. Julie Bunn (DFL-Lake Elmo). “Ten percent of our children and adolescents going to outstate locations or even to another state for services is just unacceptable.”

The bill now goes to the House Finance Committee.

A companion bill, SF3429, sponsored by Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury), was tabled March 19 by the Senate Health, Housing and Family Security Committee.

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