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Teen psychiatric hospital planned in Brooklyn Park will be state's biggest

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Mental health providers say a psychiatric hospital for teenagers scheduled to open in Brooklyn Park next year will be the largest facility of its kind in Minnesota and will help alleviate a shortage of treatment options for adolescents.

KSTP reports PrairieCare's 50-bed hospital is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015 and will have enough capacity to treat up to 1,500 youngsters per year.

PrairieCare's CEO says right now gaining access to specialized mental health care is a struggle for many Twin Cities teens. "There are hundreds of youth in the Twin Cities in psychiatric emergencies who wait for hours in emergency departments or have to travel tremendous distances to get the care they need," Joel Oberstar tells the station.

PrairieCare is a doctor-owned mental health provider affiliated with the University of Minnesota Medical School. It operates facilities in Woodbury, Edina, Maple Grove, and Chaska and will soon open one in Rochester.

Plans for the two-story hospital in Brooklyn Park now call for a 72,000-square foot facility, which is larger than what was first announced in January. Officials say there will also be room to expand the building on its 10-acre site.

A PrairieCare official told the Star Tribune in February the shortage of juvenile psychiatric beds is acute enough that the 20-bed facility that opened in Maple Grove three years ago has been almost constantly full.

When Brooklyn Park's city council approved plans for the $20 million hospital, the Sun Post newspaper reported the hospital will have a staff of 280. 200 of those will be new jobs for doctors, nurses, therapists, and support staff. They will treat children and teens will mental health issues including depression, anxiety, autism, and ADHD, the newspaper said. PrairieCare officials said the average stay will be 7 to 10 days and the hospital will not serve the criminal justice system.

The shortage of psychiatric facilities for youth is not a new development, nor is it confined to Minnesota.

One effect of the shortage is that treating behavioral disorders and prescribing psychotropic drugs often falls to primary care doctors. In 2010 Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare issued guidelines for doctors to follow when those patients also have disabilities.

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