Steamboat Springs — An expansion of the only psychiatric hospital between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, could help alleviate the mental health woes in Routt County and other communities in western Colorado.
On Wednesday, Mind Springs Health, the largest provider of mental health services in western Colorado, announced it had received $2 million from the Colorado Health Foundation that will go toward a $17,750,000 expansion of the West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction. Mind Springs is now 56 percent of the way to meeting its fundraising goal.
The hospital and the adjoining crisis stabilization unit will go from 43 to 59 beds. There will an option to add an additional 16 beds in the future.
“Mental health is something that everyone is talking about, and we need to get the hospital built,” said Roger Sheffield, vice president of development for Mind Springs.
They hope to have the hospital built by January 2019.
Sheffield said all the psychiatric hospitals in Colorado are facing a bed shortage, and most hospitals, including Yampa Valley Medical Center, do not specialize in mental health treatment.
YVMC CEO Frank May said in an email that the lack of available beds at psychiatric hospitals creates a challenge for local behavioral health services.
“We work closely with Mind Springs Health both locally and regionally in Grand Junction,” May said. “The expansion will help with potential placement for our patients requiring behavioral health services.”
Tom Gangel, regional director for Mind Springs, said that in 2016, Mind Springs handled 764 crisis evaluations in Routt County and 787 in Moffat County. In 2015, there were 670 evaluations in Routt and 660 in Moffat.
In some cases, people are placed on 72-hour mental health holds because they are a danger to themselves or others.
The Steamboat Springs Police Department in 2016 transported 24 people to mental health hospitals, primarily the one in Grand Junction. In 2015, they took 33 people.
In many cases, patients had to be kept at YVMC until they could be placed.
“There is usually a delay while they wait for a bed to open up or find one,” Police Commander Jerry Stabile.
In some cases patients have to stay at YVMC for two or three days before a bed is freed up at a hospital where they need to be treated.
“It will make a huge difference to get people treated much quicker,” Gangel said.
Mind Springs, a nonprofit, continues to raise funds for the hospital expansion.
Sheffield said the largest donation was $2.5 million from St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction. There was also a $1 million donation from an anonymous family foundation.
Mind Springs is reaching out to local governments and businesses.
Sheffield said Mind Springs officials have spoken to YVMC and plan to meet with the Routt County Board of County Commissioners.
By Matt Stensland
Steamboat Pilot & Today