New vision of care outlined for two state health facilities

10/27/2017

New vision targets residents' needs

By Representative Lloyd Larsen (R-Fremont) and Senator Dan Dockstader (R-Lincoln/Sublette/Teton)

Healthcare Facilities Task Force

The Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston and the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander both offer critical and unique safety-net services for many of our state’s most vulnerable residents. Both are also important to their home communities as employers and as sources of pride.

The Wyoming Department of Health operates both facilities, and is moving toward a new vision of care for each. The new vision recognizes the needs of Wyoming residents served by both facilities have changed over time and may continue to evolve. It also follows a comprehensive effort led by the Healthcare Facilities Task Force, which we currently lead.

The Wyoming State Hospital and the Wyoming Life Resource Center will be operated as one facility with two campuses. Clients and patients will be appropriately placed based on need. The focus of both campuses will be to provide high-quality services that result in residents being able to successfully move back to their own homes and communities as soon as possible.

The Wyoming State Hospital will provide acute, or short-term, care services to people with serious mental illness or very challenging behavioral issues. Currently, much of the state hospital’s bed capacity is filled by people with intermediate and long-term healthcare needs, which limits availability for patients needing short-term treatment and evaluation.

The Wyoming Life Resource Center will provide intermediate care and long-term skilled nursing facility services to people with high medical needs, significant mental health issues or significant behavioral challenges. Protecting and serving the existing population remains a priority. While the need for lifetime care services for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities at facilities such as our Lander campus is decreasing overall, there are more hard-to-place clients with extreme behaviors due to dementia, acquired brain injury or dual diagnosis of mental health challenges and intellectual disabilities. These are very vulnerable individuals who need and deserve quality care.

The current physical condition of buildings and grounds at both campuses makes it challenging to provide modern services that meet resident needs. As a result, a major public building and remodeling project has been approved for both locations. Up to $150 million has been appropriated by the Wyoming Legislature for the project using one-time revenues.

At the Wyoming State Hospital, the current treatment building will be renovated and expanded, creating new patient treatment areas and a more efficient campus. When the project is complete, the Wyoming State Hospital will be far more consolidated in one area of its large campus. Most remaining structures, including those most visible and recognizable from local major roadways, will no longer be used by the Wyoming State Hospital. Options for these buildings include repurposing, demolition or preservation. There are no plans to use state funding to renovate these buildings. However, community involvement and conversations about the options for the future of these structures is encouraged.

At the Wyoming Life Resource Center, new buildings will be designed for active treatment, to meet licensing requirements for both current and future clients and to better fulfill the new campus mission. New residential cottages will be designed as home-like as possible and grouped in neighborhoods. Clients will benefit from modern buildings designed to support their needs. For example, many clients cannot move around on their own and require large pieces of equipment for social and therapy-related activities. The proposed design will accommodate equipment and allow space for therapy services.

In Lander, design plans call for removing several structures where new buildings will be constructed. Other buildings will be adapted either for the facility’s use or by another state agency.

We invite residents interested in the plans for both locations to attend community meetings from noon-1p.m. Oct. 31 in Knowledge Development Center on the Wyoming State Hospital campus in Evanston or from 5-6 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Rothwell Development Center on the Wyoming Life Resource Center campus in Lander.

More information is also available online at https://health.wyo.gov/admin/healthcare-facilities-project/.

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