ST. CLOUD -- The need for mental health services continues to grow and CentraCare is implementing an new innovative care model for adult patients experiencing emergency mental health needs.

Construction is underway on the new Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing Unit (EmPATH) at St. Cloud Hospital.

Travis Hodgins is the Director of Behavioral Access. He says the unit breaks away from a typical hospital room setting.

It's a very large opened room where each patient will be assigned to one of twelve recliners as oppose to a room, and staff will be able to intermingle with the patients.

The EmPATH unit will also have a nutrition area, private interview room, two calming rooms, bathroom and laundry area for patients to use.

Hodgins says the EmPath unit will provide more focused care during a patients time of crisis and provide treatment that can often be limited in an emergency room setting.

It's becoming more and more difficult to find placement for patients with mental health crisis. They end up being in the ER with an extended stay and the longer they stay our rooms get tied up and other patients are waiting longer to get into those rooms.

According to CentraCare, more than 10 patients a day seek mental health services through the St. Cloud Hospital Emergency Trauma Center, which equals nearly 4,000 patient a year.

CentraCare says that up to 80 percent of patients who utilize the EMPATH Unit are able to become stabilized within 24 hours due to the timely and patient-centric care provided.

Funding to construct the new unit was made possible through a $1.2-milllion grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Construction is expected to be completed by early summer.

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