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Behavioral health hospital opens

State and local mental health professionals, social services officials and politicians gathered in Wadena to celebrate the opening of the Behavioral Health Hospital Friday. The hospital will serve as an in-patient facility for individuals with acute mental illness.

The 16-bed hospital is part of a statewide effort to replace large mental health institutions such as the Regional Treatment Center in Fergus Falls with smaller hospitals closer to the homes of consumers, according to mental health officials. The Minnesota Department of Human Services operates the behavioral health hospital and leases the building from Fair Oaks Lodge.

Doug Seiler, regional administrator Minnesota Department of Human Services, introduced the facility as a new standard for mental health hospitals that are regionally based rather than institutionally based.

"We're ... a model nationally on how we should provide services to people with mental illnesses," he said about the hospital.

Paul Sailer, Wadena County social services director, said it is important to appreciate the historical significance of the opening of the hospital.

"Mental health treatment in an institutional setting has ended," he said.

Sailer said the facility will provide more effective service to people with mental illness than larger institutions.

State Senator Cal Larson described the opening as a "wonderful, wonderful event" for individuals with mental illness. He said it is important to keep residents close to where they live and people can visit them.

Representative Dean Simpson said a successful partnership among the state, county, city, Tri-County Hospital and Fair Oaks Lodge is responsible for the building of the hospital in Wadena.

"It's the teamwork that makes this happen," he said.

Simpson said the hospital will also benefit the local community.

"I'm really excited, because look at the amount of jobs that will come into the Wadena area," he said about the financial impact of the hospital.

The hospital is staffed 24 hours a day and will employ 35 full-time and part-time employees including psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists and social workers. The staff will treat patients suffering from mental illnesses including paranoid schizophrenia, drug-induced schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder, said Michael Stueve, licensed practical nurse. The Community Behavioral Health Hospital opened for patients July 12. The facility includes state-of-the-art security systems including cameras and shatterproof glass.

Bill Dorholt will serve as the director of the facility. He brings nearly 30 years of experience from the Regional Treatment Center in Fergus Falls where he served as a residential program services manager and a director of behavioral sciences. He has a degree in psychology from St. Cloud State University.