Northern MN behavioral health center now under construction

Partnership with state and county aims to help patients for generations to come

Architect's rendering of Sanford Bemidji Behavioral Health Crisis Center, with modern blue wavy sign out front of brick building under a bright blue sky.

A partnership between Beltrami County and Sanford Health is bringing much needed care to patients and families in northern Minnesota, and continuing Sanford Health’s commitment to rural health care in all its forms.

On Oct. 13, representatives of Sanford Health and Beltrami County Health and Human Services gathered in Bemidji to break ground on the region’s only behavioral health crisis center.

Years in the making

The project, which kicked off in December of 2018, has long been in the works. But on this day, there was palpable excitement during the groundbreaking event.

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“This was a very complex project that was very innovative, and so as you can imagine, innovation is exciting and scary at the same time,” said Jay Coughenour, director of behavioral health at Sanford Bemidji. “There were a lot of people who had to have support in what we believe will be a huge change and a huge improvement in our services.”

“It’s a Sanford team, meeting the needs of everybody,” Coughenour added. “360 degrees of medicine, all of our therapies, all of our therapists, our psychiatrists — it’s a seamless integration that we’re creating in Bemidji and working throughout our footprint. So it’s exciting (for us) and it’s exciting for our patients.”

True partnership

Funding for the $6.2 million project came mostly from the state of Minnesota and Beltrami County, with the Sanford Foundation meeting the final gap in costs.

“This would not have been possible without the partnership with Beltrami County,” said Susan Jarvis, president and CEO of Sanford Bemidji. “Mental health is a huge need in this community. It really is in all places, and this is just going to fill a huge gap that we’ve had here for quite a while.”

The crisis center is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022. It will be approximately 12,000 square feet and include psychiatric inpatient rooms, as well as the region’s first EmPATH unit, also known as an Emergency Psychiatric Assessment Treatment and Healing unit. The EmPATH unit provides a calm setting where patients can receive individually tailored care from nurses, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, and skills-based service providers.

It will also be the only unit in the state able to accommodate both adults and adolescents.

“This is what can happen when communities come together. We know that this project and these services are going to be provided for our community for generations to come,” said Tom Barry, Beltrami County administrator. “It’s so needed, because we know folks that are in crisis, and we have to provide these facilities for them. Now they don’t have to travel 90 or 100 or 200 miles away from their home. They can have the support networks of their own families right here in town, helping them through their crisis.”

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Posted In Behavioral Health, Bemidji, Company News, News, Rural Health

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