Donors, doctors and others cut the ribbon on a new four-story wing of the Avera Behavioral Health Hospital — adding 60,000 more square feet of space for patients and programming, with several aspects aimed specifically at youth care.
Speakers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Matt Stanley, an Avera psychiatrist and the vice president of the Avera Behavioral Health Service Line, who spoke about how even before COVID-19, it had become apparent that there was a growing need for mental health care in South Dakota.
And with two years of the pandemic continuing to exacerbate those issues, Stanley said it was “perfect timing” to open the new wing, officially known as the Helmsley Behavioral Health Center.
Walter Panzirer — a trustee of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which donated $13 million of the wing’s $28 million cost — thanked the nearly 800 donors to the project, calling it “a one-of-a-kind place.”
The new wing brings the hospital to a total of 146 inpatient behavioral health beds, all in private rooms.
A 24/7 behavioral health urgent care set to open in late March will act as a “front door” to mental health services, said Thomas Otten, assistant vice president for the Avera Behavioral Health Center.
The wing will also include eight beds specifically for youth addiction care, 23-hour observation care to stabilize people going through a crisis and “partial hospitalization” services for youth, aimed at helping children deal with a behavioral health condition while not fully removing them from school.
Services at the new wing will be opening in phases as some patients are moved to the wing and other programs begin operating.
“It’s a real sense of pride,” Otten said of the building, praising the Avera system for looking at mental health without the stigma that can often come with it. “It deeply matters to patients when you build something like this.”
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: How the new Avera Behavioral Health Hospital wing will help patients