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Community Behavioral Health Hospital celebrates fifth anniversary

BEMIDJI -- Community Behavioral Health Hospital in Bemidji this month celebrates five years of providing area residents with mental health care close to their communities, homes and natural support systems.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services opened CBHH-Bemidji in June 2007 as part of a statewide redesign of mental health services to replace large regional treatment centers with community-based programs.

The 16-bed facility provides short-term, inpatient psychiatric care to adults until they can return home or transfer to a less intensive setting. In the person-centered model, patients are actively involved in treatment from creation of an individual treatment plan to family, group and individual counseling sessions, planning for discharge and the transition back into their community.

"It is a new way of serving adults with mental illness that is more community-based and highly patient-centric, and it results in individuals being able to be as independent as they possibly can," said CBHH-Bemidji Administrator Richard Slieter. "We work very, very hard to encourage and empower our patients to make decisions on their own behalf."

In its first five years, the hospital served more than 1,200 people. The average length of stay across the seven hospitals in Minnesota is less than 20 days compared to 45-50 days at regional treatment center campuses, Slieter said. Less than 10 percent of patients are readmitted within 30 days of their discharge.

Slieter said the approach is making a difference for Minnesotans in need of mental health services.

"When I have the privilege of shaking a hand or giving a hug and saying goodbye to a patient, they almost always say to me they've never been treated this way before," he said.

CBHH-Bemidji is located at 800 Bemidji Ave. N. adjacent to Sanford Senior Behavioral Health Unit. DHS State Operated Services also operates similar hospitals in Alexandria, Annandale, Baxter, Fergus Falls, Rochester and St. Peter, Minn.