The Fight Against Mental Illness in Idaho

Madison Memorial announces a new 12-bed Behavioral Health Unit (BHU)

Published online: Sep 10, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Health Perry Shumway, Madison Memorial Hospital
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Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with, and suffers from, a debilitating mental illness of one kind or another. And as much as we might like to think that this disturbing condition only affects people in faraway places, the truth is that here in Idaho, we’re definitely not immune. In fact, our state consistently ranks distressingly high in terms of suicide rates, in some years landing as much as 50 percent higher than the national average.

Emotional wellness and psychological care are major health concerns within Madison County and the surrounding area. Our large population of college students, which is a boon for the community in terms of economics and cultural impact, also results in a significant, ongoing need for behavioral health support systems. A recent community needs-assessment survey concluded that mental healthcare was the single most critical issue for the region, one which current resources, while excellent, have not been able to adequately address.

Indeed, Madison Memorial Hospital’s emergency department receives more than 400 mental-health-related visits annually, many from individuals struggling with suicidal ideation. Of these, more than 150 end up getting transported to inpatient service centers specializing in behavioral health, located in places like Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Boise, and even as far away as Salt Lake City. 

The emergency department is equipped with tele-psych evaluation services through HCA Healthcare, and our excellent social services team coordinates patient care with the amazing counselors and therapists that already live in the community. In spite of these things, the county and surrounding communities continue to have only limited access to credentialed psychiatric professionals. That’s about to change.

The Beginnings of an Idea 

Several years ago, the administrative team at Madison Memorial Hospital took the initiative, meeting multiple times with the hospital’s board of trustees, to outline the beginnings of a plan for a new behavioral health unit (BHU), one which would be locally-based, operating within the main hospital building itself. Careful planning ensued, requiring a large amount of analysis, recruitment and architectural design.

The end result of this extensive groundwork was the announcement of a new, 12-bed behavioral health unit at Madison Memorial, to be built both to address the growing need for local psychiatric care, as well as to serve as a supplement to the outstanding mental health services already existing in the community.

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

The BHU at Madison Memorial will consist of a 12-bed, crisis-stabilization facility for adults 18 and over. The average patient stay is expected to be approximately 7 days, with the age of the average patient to be around 26 years. The state-of-the-art facility will include a breakfast nook area, a walled outdoors section, a large reception desk, multiple staff offices, and 12 licensed, certified patient beds. Construction has been ongoing, with a target grand opening to take place in September or October.

Two New Psychiatrists 

Dr. Jim McCoy, MD, will be one of two full-time psychiatrists who will be joining the Madison Memorial staff, spearheading the new BHU and receiving and treating patients. He received his medical degree from Texas A&M, performing his four-year residency at the University of Utah healthcare system. He’ll be working closely with Dr. James Morris, MD, who received his medical degree and performed his subsequent residency at the University of Utah. Dr. McCoy and Dr. Morris will be working together to establish a greater presence in southeastern Idaho for the training of future psychiatric professionals, collaborating with the University of Utah and Idaho State University to ultimately set up a program to facilitate it.

Answering a Community Need

The new BHU at Madison Memorial will be a great asset to the community, meeting a long-recognized need. Madison a 69 bed, full-service medical facility—the only self-sustaining, county-owned, non-critical-access hospital in the state. It’s a premier, regional healthcare facility serving five counties in the region. It comprises an outstanding 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

To read more of the September issue click here.


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