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Published on March 03, 2022

Avera Ready to Open New Behavioral Health Wing

To respond to growing needs throughout its 72,000-square-mile footprint, in March Avera is opening a new four-story wing as part of its Avera Behavioral Health Hospital in Sioux Falls.

The Helmsley Behavioral Health Center adds 60,000 more square feet of space for treating psychiatric needs among children, youth and adults. This wing adds several new services including 24/7 Behavioral Health Urgent Care, observation care, youth addiction care services and partial hospitalization for youth. Behavioral Health Urgent Care opens in late March.

The wing also will house Avera’s senior behavioral health unit, which is currently located on the Avera Prince of Peace campus. This will provide an opportunity to add to the continuity of mental health services while enhancing and expanding this program. In total, Avera Behavioral Health Hospital will have 146 inpatient behavioral health beds plus eight addiction residential beds for adolescents – all private rooms.

The Helmsley Behavioral Health Center exterior photo

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer expanded and enhanced behavioral health services. This wing provides more space plus addresses some previously unmet needs with new services. Avera Behavioral Health Hospital continues our history as a world-class destination for mental health services in a greater way with a wider continuum of care,” said Thomas Otten, Assistant Vice President for the Avera Behavioral Health Hospital.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust generously donated $13 million in grant and matching funding to help make this $28 million wing a reality. Around 770 other donors joined the cause, together with the grant funding contributing more than $22 million in philanthropic support.

“Avera has been an important partner for us in meeting health care needs across the Upper Midwest. We recognize that behavioral health care can be difficult to access for many, especially in rural locations. Through this center we hope to expand access, and ultimately save and impact lives for the better,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee with The Helmsley Charitable Trust.

New and Enhanced Services

24/7 Behavioral Health Urgent Care

Similar to a medical urgent care, this is specifically for people in behavioral health crisis. In addition to an assessment team, this unit is staffed by a registered nurse, behavioral health technician and advanced practice provider around the clock. “For people in the Sioux Falls area who are in crisis, the Behavioral Health Urgent Care is a new ‘front door’ to mental health services,” Otten said.

The goal for Urgent Care is to safely handle the crisis and then refer patients and families to the most appropriate and best level of care. This may mean inpatient admission, or referral to outpatient community resources. Behavioral health navigators can help bridge the time between an Urgent Care visit and a psychiatry or counseling appointment.

This level of care is extremely rare in the region. Behavioral Health Urgent Care is slated to open in late March.

23-Hour Observation Care

This provides a safe place for people to stabilize and work out safety and crisis response plans with the help of nurses and behavioral health techs. After they’ve been stabilized, these people can be referred to community-based services.

Residential Addiction Care for Youth

Avera’s adult Addiction Care Center has been open since December of 2019. Throughout the 28-day stay, addiction counselors work with residents in multiple approaches, for example, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, art and music therapy, life skills and more.

Programming space includes indoor/outdoor recreational space plus video exercise/gaming activities. “Showing kids that there are fun and exciting activities that can replace the void left by addiction is important. It’s key to keep them active and engaged,” Otten said.

Both adult and youth addiction care services can be accessed by calling 605-504-2222. The youth Addiction Care Center will begin taking referrals March 14.

Partial Hospitalization Services for Youth

Avera has offered partial hospitalization for adults in the past; this wing allows this level of care to be expanded to include youth. They can spend their nights at home, part of their day in school and part of their day working on the behavioral health condition that is impeding their success in school and in life.

Three Specialized Units for Children and Adolescents

The new wing will house Avera’s specialized unit for children. Then in the existing Avera Behavioral Health Hospital, Avera will develop a second unit for adolescents. “The needs of a 7-year-old, 11-year-old and 17-year-old are all very different. So this new configuration allows us to tailor our care to these different age groups,” Otten said.

Call 1-800-691-4336 to learn more about where to start with services from Avera Behavioral Health.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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