Measure would expand mental health beds in Chippewa Valley
Leader-Telegram - 6/16/2019
Jun. 16--A proposal given preliminary approval recently by the state Legislature's Joint Finance Committee would expand the number of mental health beds available in the Chippewa Valley.
The budget provision would provide $15 million to the HSHS Western Wisconsin Division, which includes Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls, to add 22 mental health beds for adolescents and adults, according to a news release from state Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie, and Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona.
Individuals facing a mental health crisis and in need of emergency detention now face a multi-hour drive, often in the back of a squad car, to the state's only mental health facility near Oshkosh. By improving access to adult and adolescent behavioral health beds in the Chippewa Valley, this project would reduce the strain this long commute places on patients and law enforcement while keeping patients closer to friends and family, the news release states.
"By reducing time spent transporting individuals and establishing a location closer to home, county and local governments in our part of the state are in line to save more than $2.7 million every year," James said.
Bernier also thanked the leadership team at the HSHS hospitals for working with legislators to formulate a plan benefiting northwestern Wisconsin.
"This plan is good for our community and great for people in need of treatment," Bernier said.
The proposal is included in the Legislature's current version of the two-year state budget, which must be passed by both the Senate and Assembly and signed by Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law.
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