SHERIDAN – During a meeting Wednesday, the Sheridan Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees took action to increase the hospital’s care and capacity for behavioral health patients by supporting efforts to secure dollars from the Behavioral Health Rescue Plan Act and allocating funding for a vehicle to inadvertently detain patients.
“[There] There is a great need in our region to provide the right kind of care and treatment for patients with behavioral health, ”said SMH CEO Mike McCafferty.
Like providers across the state, Sheridan Memorial Hospital is fighting for a share of $ 85 million in ARPA funding to improve health care in Wyoming, McCafferty explained. In addition to requesting improvements and repairs to heating, ventilation and air conditioning to create inventory and supply space, McCafferty said the hospital plans to seek funding from ARPA to create crisis stabilization and emergency psychiatric evaluation, treatment and healing. – or EmPATH – a facility within existing hospital facilities.
The new facility, which McCafferty says will cost about $ 15 million, will serve as a “front door,” McCafferty said, serving emergency psychiatric and behavioral health patients, providing assessment areas, crisis stabilization and 8 to 10 inpatient behavioral health beds. .
There is an urgent need for additional behavioral health services in Wyoming, McCafferty said; the state has much less than the recommended 50 beds per 100,000 residents, and the nearest inpatient behavioral health facility is in Gillette. Meanwhile, about 150 people a year are admitted to the emergency department of Sheridan Memorial Hospital for a title 25 – or involuntary commitment, during which patients pose a danger to themselves or others – each year. A new behavioral health facility – even one that, as McCafferty explained, would take two to three years to receive funding and build – would ease the burden on SMH emergency department staff while providing appropriate and safe care. people in mental health crises.
The board decided to support the hospital’s efforts to seek ARPA funding for the project.
“The Board of Trustees encourages and supports all efforts to develop and manage EmPath and the Crisis Stabilization Unit serving Northeast Wyoming and, as far as capacity allows, citizens across the state,” the resolution said.
“I just think it’s so important. This program would be great for our community, “said SMH Vice President David Smith of the potential new unit.
Sheridan County Commissioners approved a similar resolution earlier this week in support of the establishment of a SMH behavioral health department.
SMH officials are currently waiting for the State Loan and Investment Council to begin accepting applications for ARPA funding, which McCafferty expected to happen in the next few weeks. From there, government officials will determine whether SMH projects are selected to receive federal funding.
In another effort to alleviate the behavioral health challenges, the SMH Board of Trustees also approved a $ 55,000 purchase of a 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe to transport medically stabilized, inadvertently engaged patients to other facilities across the board. state. In addition to a medically trained driver, the vehicle will eventually be equipped with barriers between the driver and the middle row of seats, as well as between the middle and rear row of seats, to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers during transport, SMH Director of Lynn’s critical care, Grady explained.
Recent planning challenges between the hospital and Sheridan County ambulance provider Rocky Mountain Ambulance have necessitated the acquisition, Lynn Grady said. Over the past six months, Grady said restrictions on the EMS contractor’s staff have reduced the availability of ambulances, so the hospital can no longer rely on RMA ambulances to transport involuntarily engaged patients in a timely manner.
Timely transportation is essential for patients who need inpatient behavioral health care in Wyoming, said SMH Chief Financial Officer Nathan Stut. If SMH providers cannot transport patients to inpatient behavioral health facilities fast enough, the patient’s bed can go to the next person waiting for treatment at the facility.
“We are looking to try to get someone involved [inpatient behavioral health] bed, as well as 20 other facilities in the state, ”Stutte said. “I think that’s a very important part so we can get patients where they need to be.”
Working with the hospital’s own vehicles will ensure that SMH can transport people independently and without having to rely on the availability of another agency, McCafferty said.
Margaret O’Hara is a reporter for The Sheridan Press.