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HSHS hospitals to use state funding to expand behavioral health capabilities
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HSHS hospitals to use state funding to expand behavioral health capabilities

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HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals are excited to receive $15 million in state funding as part of Governor Tony Evers’ biannual state budget, announced Thursday, July 8. The funding will allow our hospitals to expand capacity by adding 22 new psychiatric beds.

The additional beds will enhance the existing units, creating a 33-bed adult unit at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and a dedicated 18-bed adolescent unit at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls.

“We have been committed to serving the behavioral health needs of our communities for 60 years,” said Andy Bagnall, HSHS Wisconsin President and CEO. “This expansion directly aligns with our mission and allows our inpatient services to meet a significant community need.”

HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals’ Executive Director of Behavioral Health, Toni Simonson said securing this grant to expand the hospitals’ emergency mental health services is crucial.

“I am so thrilled and appreciative of this funding,” says Simonson. “This is going to help us serve more community members during a time when mental health needs are rising at an exceptional rate.”

Currently many patients in need of emergency mental health services must be transferred to facilities far outside the Chippewa Valley. This puts a strain not only on patients, but also law enforcement agencies that make those transfers. Simonson says expanding local access to care keeps patients in closer proximity to family support networks and therefore enhances patient recovery.

The initiative to add mental health beds began in 2019 with Senator Kathy Bernier as the lead advocate for additional resources. With help from Representative Jesse James, the legislators worked closely with HSHS leadership to develop a facilities and funding strategic plan.

“Just last week we announced a growth initiative regarding adding beds to the HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital rehabilitation department,” said Bagnall. “Now we are growing our ability to provide emergency mental health services. It will be rewarding to see the positive impact these additions will have for our patients.

Renovations to add mental health beds at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals will begin in the near future.

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