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Thief River Falls psychiatric facility expands

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The Minnesota Department of Health has approved the expansion of an inpatient psychiatric facility at Sanford Thief River Falls from 10 to 16 beds.

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The Minnesota Legislature approved legislation this spring that allowed Sanford to bypass a 30-year-old state moratorium on new hospitals or bed capacity.

“The need is great,” Sanford-TRF CEO Brian Carlson said in a letter to employees. “Last year, Sanford Thief River Falls turned away 120 psychiatric admissions from Beltrami County alone because census was at capacity.

“Now we will be able to improve access and programming at our existing psychiatric inpatient unit and keep patients closer to home so they have the best chance of connecting with services and rehabilitating toward recovery with as much support as possible.”

In 2012, Sanford Thief River Falls’ inpatient psychiatric unit had 471 admissions, with an average stay of 6.2 days. It also turned away 393 admissions, including 347 because of lack of capacity.

“The primary service area for inpatient psychiatric services at Sanford Thief River Falls encompasses a sizeable portion of Northwest Minnesota,” he said. “Due to the limited number of mental health facilities, we draw patients from a much larger service area than our traditional medical services.”

The expansion, which will take place at Sanford’s downtown campus on LaBree Avenue, is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The extra space is being made available because of Sanford Hospital’s upcoming move to a new 25-critical-care-bed, 137,000-square-foot hospital and clinic located along Minnesota Highway 32 on the south end of Thief River Falls. The clinic will open Sept. 29, followed by the hospital on Oct. 1.

“Everybody recognized the need for these types of services,” said Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, who sponsored the legislation. “Sanford did a great job of expressing the need and explaining their plan.”

He said the proposal received widespread support from social services, sheriff’s departments and health care professionals in northwest Minnesota.

The combined hospital-clinic-psychiatric facility projects will cost an estimated $57 million.

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Kevin Bonham
Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: www.grandforksherald.com. He welcomes story ideas via email, kbonham@gfherald.com, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  
(701) 780-1110
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