New Behavioral Health Unit coming to Madison Memorial Hospital

The mother baby unit that will undergo construction for the behavioral health unit. | Courtesy Madison Memorial Hospital

REXBURG — Madison Memorial Hospital is preparing to add a new unit to its facility that will help meet the growing need for mental health care in the community.

Within the next few months, construction will begin on a new behavioral health unit. The area will be in a section of the hospital that is currently being used as an overflow for labor and delivery. The secondary mother baby unit has already been cleared to make room for the new behavioral department.

The unit will have 12 beds, and act as a crisis-stabilizing facility for adults 18 and over. The average patient stay is expected to be approximately seven days.

“Our availability for mental health care is low in our area,” hospital’s spokesman Doug McBride told EastIdahoNews.com. “Some even get to a point where they’re calling it an epidemic level. This (unit) is hitting that need.”

The hospital has disccused adding a behavioral health unit for several years, according to McBride, who said they are looking forward to being able to do so now.

“We’re looking out for some of those service areas that we don’t have, that we are trying to fill,” he said. “This is a need that will be very, very beneficial to this community.”

Courtesy Madison Memorial Hospital

Madison Memorial’s emergency department receives over 400 mental health visits annually. McBride explained that sometimes the hopsital can do treatments to help the patients so they don’t have to be placed in a behavioral health unit, but Madison Memorial still does over 150 transports to inpatient services in Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise and Salt Lake City, if the person needs to be in a stabilized environment.

Oftentimes, he said the facilities are full, and the patients have to stay in Madison Memorial’s emergency department for up to 72 hours while the hospital works to finds a location to send them to.

With Madison Memorial’s behavioral health unit, the hospital will be able to keep the patients, rather than transport them elsewhere.

“We have some wonderful counseling centers and services here to help individuals, but to be able to have a unit where we can actually house them is not something that was really happening in our area,” McBride said.

The hospital has two psychiatrists contracted to be the attending physicians for the new unit. Drs. James Morris and Jim McCoy, both from the University of Utah Medical School Psychiatric Residency program, will be leading the launch of the new behavioral health unit.

“They will be running our facility for us, and it is very difficult to get psychiatrists in this area,” McBride said. “To be able to have two of them, we are really excited to have them come.”

The behavioral health unit is expected to open in September 2021.