By Mark Nicklawske

Youth struggling with severe depression, anxiety and other mental health issues have never had a place where they could go specifically designed and built for their long term treatment and educational needs.

Until now.   

The Hills Youth and Family Services broke ground on a new $26 million mental health treatment center in East Bethel, Minn. Dec. 18  and construction started on the project this month. The facility will be the first purpose-built psychiatric residential treatment center for youth constructed in the state of Minnesota.

Cambia Hills East Bethel will provide a unique, age-appropriate space for children ages 7 to 17 as they battle mental health issues and work to get back home and into mainstream school. Officials said the new facility will provide medically managed service and basic education for children working through a difficult period in their lives.

“It’s actually a higher level of care that we haven’t had in Minnesota,” said Cambia Hills East Bethel Administrator David Hartford. “We’re hoping to intervene with children who may be falling between the cracks.”

Hartford said many parents become frustrated with the current youth mental health system when their children face problems too difficult for basic community services but are not meeting criteria for hospitalization.

“This will really help fill that gap,” he said.

The new 60-bed facility will be specially designed for youth care, treatment and education. In the past, children have been placed in a variety of buildings or care centers remodeled from different uses or designed for other institutional needs.

“It’s really about having the design features that we wanted,” said Hartford. “We wanted to make it as residential of a feel as possible and not institutional.”

Hartford traveled the state and met with families to discuss the program and new building ideas and features. The Hills is partnering with Kraus Anderson, TKDA and Architectural Innovations on construction and design.

The building will feature a gymnasium and classroom space based on modern school design. A a wall of glass highlights cafeteria plans and individual rooms offer a modular look with built in twin beds and reading nooks perched on floor to ceiling windows.

The rural East Bethel location also provides a nice backdrop for healing.

“The wooded property – it’s on 37 acres – has views of the woods. It doesn’t feel like a hospital. It doesn’t feel like an institution. It feels as residential as possible.” said Hartford.

Cambia Hills East Bethel will partner with Intermediate School District 916 to provide day-to-day education classes for students at the facility. Tammy Bednar has been hired as the school principal and will overseas 10 classrooms and a staff of 30.

“They’re used to serving this population,” said Hartford. “We’re really in full partnership sharing the building.”

Cambia Hills East Bethel will employ 150 people at its opening, now scheduled for December, 2019.

Hartford said he was excited about introducing the new facility and collaborating with Intermediate School District 916 on an innovative form of youth mental health care and education.

“Integrating behavioral health services and education, we can both work on how to make transitioning home better,” said Hartford. “We’re both working on the same kind of things from two perspectives.”

“At the end of the day it will be an improved service over anything we have now.”

Cambia Hills East Bethel will partner with Intermediate School District 916 to provide day-to-day education classes for students at the facility. Tammy Bednar has been hired as the school principal and will overseas 10 classrooms and a staff of 30.

“They’re used to serving this population,” said Hartford. “We’re really in full partnership sharing the building.”

Cambia Hills East Bethel will employ 150 people at its opening, now scheduled for December, 2019.

Hartford said he was excited about introducing the new facility and collaborating with Intermediate School District 916 on an innovative form of youth mental health care and education.

“Integrating behavioral health services and education, we can both work on how to make transitioning home better,” said Hartford. “We’re both working on the same kind of things from two perspectives.”

“At the end of the day it will be an improved service over anything we have now.”

 

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