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SHERIDAN — During a meeting Wednesday, Sheridan Memorial’s board of trustees took action to expand the hospital’s ability to care for and serve mental health patients by supporting efforts to raise dollars through the American Mental Health Rescue Plan Act and providing funds for a vehicle. for forced transportation. detained patients.

“[There] There is a great need in our region to provide appropriate care and treatment for patients with behavioral disorders,” said SMH CEO Mike McCafferty.

McCafferty explained that, like healthcare providers across the state, Sheridan Memorial Hospital is vying for a share of $85 million in ARPA funding to modernize Wyoming’s healthcare system. McCafferty said that in addition to requesting HVAC upgrades and repairs to create inventory and storage space, the hospital plans to request ARPA funds to establish Crisis Stabilization and Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing – or EmPATH – facilities in existing hospital facilities.

The new facility, which McCafferty estimates will cost about $15 million, will serve as the “front door,” McCafferty said, to serve emergency patients with psychiatric disorders and psychiatric disorders, providing facilities for assessment, crisis stabilization, and eight to 10 inpatients. behavioral beds.

According to McCafferty, there is an urgent need for additional mental health services in Wyoming; the state is far below the recommended 50 beds per 100,000 residents, and the closest inpatient mental health facility is in Gillette. Meanwhile, about 150 people a year are admitted to Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Section 25 emergency room — or involuntary placement during which patients pose a danger to themselves or others — every year. A new mental health facility — even one that McCafferty explained will take two to three years to get funded and built — will ease the burden on SMH emergency room staff while providing adequate and safe care for people in mental health crises. .

The board decided to support the hospital’s efforts to raise funding for the ARPA project.

“The Board of Trustees hereby encourages and supports all efforts to develop and operate the EmPath and Crisis Stabilization Division serving Northeast Wyoming and, to the extent possible, citizens across the state,” the resolution reads.

“I just think it’s very important. This program would be beneficial to our community,” said SMH Vice Chairman David Smith of the potential new division.

Sheridan County Commissioners earlier this week approved a similar resolution supporting the creation of a mental health unit by SMH.

SMH officials are currently waiting for the State Board of Credit and Investment to begin accepting applications for ARPA funding, which McCafferty expected to happen in the next few weeks. From there, state officials will determine whether SMH projects are selected for federal funding.

In yet another attempt to alleviate the problems associated with patients with behavioral disorders, the SMH Board of Trustees also approved the purchase of a $55,000 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe to transport medically stabilized, involuntarily hospitalized patients to other facilities across the state. . In addition to a medically trained driver, the vehicle will eventually be equipped with partitions between the driver and middle row of seats, and between the middle and rear rows of seats, to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers during transport, said Lynn, director of critical care at SMH. . Grady explained.

Recent scheduling issues between the hospital and Sheridan County’s ambulance provider, Rocky Mountain Ambulance, have necessitated the acquisition, according to Lynn Grady. Over the past six months, staffing shortages at the ambulance contractor have reduced the availability of ambulances such that the hospital can no longer rely on RMA ambulances to transport involuntarily admitted patients in a timely manner, Grady said.

Timely transportation is essential for patients requiring inpatient behavioral health treatment in Wyoming, according to SMH CFO Nathan Stutte. If SMH providers cannot transport patients to residential behavioral care facilities quickly enough, the patient’s bed may be transferred to the next person waiting in the facility.

“We’re trying to get someone on this [inpatient behavioral health] bed, as well as 20 other institutions in the state,” Stutte said. “I think it’s a very important part to be able to get patients to where they need to be.”

Using the hospital’s own vehicles will allow SMH to transport people on its own and without having to rely on another agency’s availability, McCafferty said.

Margaret O’Hara reporter for the Sheridan Press.

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