Tackling Mental Illness in Idaho

Almost 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives and suffers from a debilitating mental illness of one kind or another. And while we like to think that this disturbing condition only affects people in remote locations, the truth is, here in Idaho we are certainly not immune. In fact, our state consistently ranks at a desperately high level in terms of suicide rates, with some years reaching up to 50% above the national average.

Emotional wellness and psychological care are major health concerns in Madison County and surrounding areas. Our large student population, which is a boon to the community in terms of economic and cultural impact, also translates into a significant and continuing need for behavioral health support systems. A recent community needs assessment survey concluded that mental health care was the most critical issue for the region, an issue that current resources, while excellent, have not been able to address. adequately.

Indeed, the emergency department at Madison Memorial Hospital receives more than 400 mental health-related visits each year, many from people struggling with suicidal ideation. Of these, more than 150 end up being transported to behavioral health inpatient service centers located in places like Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise and even as far as Salt Lake City.

The emergency department is equipped with telepsychic assessment services through HCA Healthcare, and our excellent social services team coordinates patient care with the amazing counselors and therapists who already live in the community. Despite these things, the county and surrounding communities continue to have limited access to licensed psychiatric professionals. It’s about to change.

The beginnings of an idea

Several years ago, the Madison Memorial Hospital administrative team took the initiative, meeting on several occasions with the hospital’s board of directors, to outline the beginnings of a plan for a new behavioral health unit. (BHU), which is said to be locally based, operating in the main hospital building itself. Careful planning ensued, requiring a large amount of analysis, recruiting and architectural design.

The end result of this extensive preparatory work was the announcement of a new 12-bed behavioral health unit at Madison Memorial, which will be built both to meet the growing need for local psychiatric care, as well as to serve as a complement. to the exceptional health services already existing in the community.

Schafer Consulting, the Health-Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) at the University of Utah, JRW & Associates and a dedicated team from Madison Memorial worked together for over a year in the planning phase of the creation of the new unit, which is slated to open this fall.

The Madison Memorial BHU will be a 12-bed crisis stabilization facility for adults 18 years of age and older. The average patient stay is expected to be approximately 7 days, with the average patient age being approximately 26 years. The state-of-the-art facility will include a dining area, walled outdoor section, large reception desk, multiple staff desks and 12 licensed and certified patient beds. Construction is underway, with a grand opening slated for September or October.

Two new psychiatrists

Dr. Jim McCoy, MD, will be one of two full-time psychiatrists who will join the staff at Madison Memorial, lead the new BHU, and receive and treat patients. He received his medical degree from Texas A&M and completed his four-year residency in the University of Utah Health System. He will work closely with Dr. James Morris, MD, who received his medical degree and completed his subsequent residency at the University of Utah. Dr McCoy and Dr Morris will work together to establish a greater presence in Southeast Idaho for the training of future psychiatric professionals, in collaboration with the University of Utah and Idaho State University to set up a program to facilitate it.

Respond to a community need

The new BHU at Madison Memorial will be a major asset to the community, responding to a long-recognized need. Madison, a 69-bed full-service medical facility, the state’s only county-owned, non-critical access self-contained hospital. It is a leading regional health facility serving five counties in the region. It includes an exceptional administrative staff and healthcare professionals who are dedicated to providing quality care to every patient.

For more information

Madison Memorial Hospital

450 E Main St, Rexburg, ID • 208-359-6900


For more on the September issue, click here.

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