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Allina's plan to put addiction and mental health services in the same hospital

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Two Anoka County hospitals are becoming one – something officials say will improve patient care.

Mercy Hospital (which is in Coon Rapids) and Unity Hospital (over in Fridley) will become one hospital, just with two different buildings. Allina Health runs the two hospitals and announced the plan in an email news release Tuesday.

This will happen Jan. 1, 2017. The two hospitals will share the name Mercy Hospital, with the Fridley location being called Mercy Hospital – Unity Campus. (The two campuses are about 10 miles apart.)

The health system's idea is that you can't do everything at both places, the Star Tribune reports. While both campuses will still have emergency departments and associated services, specialty programs from each hospital (such as addiction treatment) will be combined together at one location, the release says.

Allina Health says doing this will enhance services and make them stronger, which will improve patient care, while eliminating duplicate services.

The health care system has done this before. It combined its cardiovascular programs into one at Mercy Hospital, which led to the program being recognized nationally, the release says. Last year, the two hospitals combined birth centers at Mercy Hospital.

Improving mental health and addiction treatment

The next step in the "One Hospital, Two Campuses" plan is consolidating inpatient mental health and addiction medicine services at the Unity campus by early 2017.

Currently, Unity has outpatient and inpatient substance abuse treatment programs, while Mercy has just an inpatient mental health service, Gloria O'Connell, of Allina Health, told BringMeTheNews.

Because 60 percent of mental health patients also struggle with addiction, putting the programs in the same place will help improve care for a lot of those people, the release says.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Minnesota says, in any given year, about one in four adults have a "diagnosable mental illness."

“We are making a significant investment to improve access to mental health professionals and services. Improved access in our primary care and mental health clinics will help to avoid a crisis that may result in a trip to the Emergency Department," Helen Strike, president of Unity Hospital, said in the release. 

There's been a push recently for improving mental health care, including in this year's legislative session. Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed investing $177.3 million to improve care and treatment across Minnesota.

It's not clear what other services will shift between the two campuses, but officials with the health system told BringMeTheNews the goal is to reduce duplication between the two.

The Star Tribune says the health system is spending $17.5 million to combine the services.

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