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New EmPATH Unit at St. Cloud Hospital to help patients with emergency mental health needs

St. Cloud Times - 2/10/2021

Feb. 10—ST. CLOUD — Construction is underway on a new unit at St. Cloud Hospital that is meant to provide faster and more comfortable assessments of emergency mental health patients.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust granted CentraCare $1.2 million for the Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing unit (EmPATH).

The EmPATH unit care model moves patients from the sometimes chaotic emergency department to a calmer setting where they can be assessed and receive a tailored treatment plan.

More than 10 patients a day seek mental health services through the St. Cloud Hospital emergency room, or about 4,000 patients each year, making mental health emergencies the sixth most common reason patients visit the emergency room, according to CentraCare.

"The ability to implement this unique model of care comes at a time when we are seeing more and more patients seeking crisis-level help for mental health issues," stated Merryssa Wood, nurse practitioner in behavioral health at CentraCare — St. Cloud Hospital. "The EmPATH Unit will make it possible for us to provide more focused care during a time of crisis and offer support and treatment that can sometimes be limited in traditional emergency department settings due to the focus on physical trauma or other medical emergencies."

Construction started in December and is expected to be completed by early summer.

"This will be brick-and-mortar space dedicated to people with mental health concerns, into which we can pull together a network of support people and resources to follow each patient back into the community," stated Kristin McNutt, physician assistant in behavioral health.


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